This seems like a good time to write a post about gratitude. Sometimes I think that when we hear the word gratitude, we immediately groan and prepare ourselves to be told how we ought to be thankful. Or maybe that’s just me? I think the issue that I have with gratitude is that we’re often told we should be grateful for something in response to a negative emotion we’re having. If I’m having a bad day and I’m sad or anxious, the last thing I want is for someone to tell me that I should be more grateful.
I think it’s the way that gratitude is often held up as an obligation that really rubs me the wrong way. After all, it’s not a choice between being sad or being grateful. Gratitude does not and ought not to overrule your feelings. For example, while I am grateful for things like my Fiance, my dog, my family, and my friends, I am at the same time also fearful and sad about the state of politics in the United States at this moment. My reaction to Trump being the President-elect is not to think that at least I don’t live in Syria. So yes, I am grateful for my relative safety compared to those in Syria, but that does not negate my fears of living under a President Trump.
Gratitude has its place, certainly. However, I think that gratitude should come out of a sense of love for one’s blessings, rather than a sense of obligation. Gratitude should not be something that will negate righteous anger, or understandable sadness and anxiety. Even if you’re feeling sad for no reason at all, it’s very hurtful for someone to tell you that you ought to disregard that feeling and be grateful, when that’s the last thing you could imagine feeling.
I think what I’ve discovered this Thanksgiving is that gratitude can coexist with a range of feelings, and that we should be wary of those who tell us to accept unfair circumstances just because someone out there has it worse than us. Gratitude should not give way to complacency. I will remember my gratitude for my country, but this gratitude will not make me stand idle in the face of hatred.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I don’t have enough time to do all of the things I want to do. I wonder sometimes if I want too much. I’m the kind of person who always has two or three hobbies at a time. When I’m pursuing a new hobby, I read blog posts, borrow books, and watch online videos, all in the hopes of mastering the knowledge that I need to be successful. However, I often move on to the next thing when I meet the first obstacle or challenge in my way. Knowing this, my goal is to approach hobbies in a way that I’m not wasting my money, but making good use of free resources.
There are many ways to educate yourself about your new hobby for free. Here are a few ideas:
Check out your library’s resources
- Even if you don’t go to the library very often, many libraries have electronic resources. For example, with a library card from the Cambridge Public Library and Boston Public Library, I have access to Lynda.com for free. I can borrow 10 eBooks, audiobooks, or TV/Movie selections per month from Hoopla and download them directly to my iPad. If your hobby involves science, history, or the arts, there are even more free resources available. Many libraries have extensive online academic journals that give you access to all kinds of research and studies.
Ask your friends/ acquaintances
- Perhaps you have a close friend who is more knowledgeable than you about something you’d like to learn about. Or maybe they’re interested in learning more and want a buddy to help them be accountable. (This works really well for hobbies that involve activities, such as rock climbing, yoga, or some other new workout)
- Chances are you probably have way more Facebook friends than friends you see on the regular. So why not post a status about your new hobby and ask for resources or advice? If you see some of your Facebook friends posting about a hobby you would like to learn more about, post a comment and give a compliment or ask a question. People love talking about their hobbies and would likely point you in the right direction for free or low cost resources.
- One of the wonders about the internet is being able to find information quickly and easily about pretty much any niche topic. Depending on your interest, those who pursue your desired hobby may be on different mediums. For example, photographers love posting things on Instagram as it’s a medium for photos. However, if your interest is in computer programming, you’re more likely to find them on a programming subreddit or on Stack Exchange.
One more tip. If you’re anything like me, remember that you don’t need to be perfect. It’s fine to enjoy singing even if you’re no Adele or Lady Gaga. Just because you want to take up soccer doesn’t mean you have to be some kind of pro. Do what you enjoy. When learning a new skill or hobby, the journey is half the fun.
At the end of the day, just go forth and learn and try new things.