Thankful Like Mark Watney

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CalvinI always think about pretty specific themes around the holidays. Thankfulness, giving, and resolutions to make changes in our lives in the new year. I love seeing people’s thankful posts on facebook and twitter, and it’s a great tradition to spend a minute each day thinking about the ways in which we’re blessed. Usually these posts show us at our best and most generous. That’s great, but what about all the times we are raging about the unfairness of it all. What about when everything seems like it’s going down hill and there’s no stopping before hitting the brambles at the bottom? How are we supposed to be thankful then? What would Mark Watney do?

It’s easy to be positive, to be thankful, when things are going well. When the words are just flowing, when all the seams match up, when we’re not already behind and there aren’t a gajillion other things that need to be taken care of as well. It’s even pretty easy to bounce back from having to start over if everything else is going okay. When everything isn’t just coming together as if by magic though, when it’s all work or worse, when it just seems terrible and I feel like I’m wasting my life and just want to burn the whole thing down. It’s hard to be thankful for anything, when everything seems terrible. I take a deep breath, and try to be thankful like Mark Watney.The-Martian-viral-teaser

Mark Watney is the main character in the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Left for dead after his team was forced to abandon an exploratory mission on Mars, Mark is trapped eight months away from any possible rescue, four years from any likely rescue, and only enough supplies to last a handful of weeks. What he did have though, is amazing resourcefulness, skills that allowed him to make what he needed out of what he had, and eventually, help filling in the gaps from the people at NASA. Sure I know it’s just a book, but it does put problems like a bad day into perspective. So I ask myself “What would Mark Watney do?”boy_spaceman_web

Being thankful like Mark Watney isn’t a “Count your blessings, there’s people that have it worse than you, so you should be happy” type of solution. It’s a method that begins by acknowledging that there is a problem, and being thankful that the problem didn’t kill me. Then I decide if I need to do anything right now to prevent it from getting worse, like mopping up the cup of coffee I just spilled on my drawing before it gets to my computer. Most of us aren’t on Mars wearing a broken helmet, and trapped in an airlock that just got blown out of our habitat…so this shouldn’t be too stressful. Then I take a deep breath and look at the different parts of the situation. Most things can be broken down and addressed through practice, research, asking for help, or just moving forward and doing the work. Every day, I’m thankful to live in a world where all of these resources are readily available to me. Sometimes it just takes an adjustment to my approach, sometimes it means starting over. I always try not to forget though that it’s not enough to just be thankful, I also have to move forward and act on my own behalf. Otherwise, I may never get off Mars.

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