The Importance of Hobbies: I can’t underestimate the importance of hobbies, outlets for relaxing and shifting one’s mind to another place – usually a better one.
This past weekend, Melissa and I emptied boxes of holiday templates, decorative cutouts of Santa, Dreidels, snowmen, sleighs, trees, doilies, and snowflakes. The annual crafting of Christmas and holiday cards commenced. I love working side by side with Melissa. It’s a team effort. It’s soothing.
Painting with a broad brush (a hobby!), most men would rather have a root canal instead of subjecting themselves to card making. For the remaining group, the vast majority would feel as though they were paroled after surviving such an ordeal. Not me. I’m one of the few who finds peace and a sense of accomplishment after making my own cards.
I also love the experience of writing in cursive. It seems as though handwriting is a lost art. I find the very act of handwriting to be relaxing and therapeutic – another benefit.
As I’ve stated in the past, I am a contrarian. I like being different. I love to do the opposite of others. I realize this is a bit indulgent. Like a snowflake, there is no other card in the world like the one I created.
But the more benign part of me engages in this hobby because it truly makes me feel good. I like thinking about the reaction of those opening the envelope and seeing my creation.
Additional benefits include a “forced” sense of focus, making your mind work in a different way, and evoking your creative side. I believe we are all creative to a degree.
Another weekly hobby of mine is tying my own flies for when I go fly fishing. It brings me great satisfaction to catch a beautiful trout that was fooled by a fly that I created. The fly was realistic enough for the fish to eat it.
Tying flies helps me live in a different world. A world of creation, focus, and peace. Again, there is a sense of accomplishment – yes, like a typical man (sorry guys), I like to keep score by quantifying my efforts – tangible results … an army of flies.
It’s also funny (and scary) to see Melissa’s reaction whenever she walks into my office – the crafting room. It’s full of all sorts of tying materials. It’s a mess, but it’s an organized mess which helps me chill out.
I hope this has provided some insight regarding the importance of hobbies. They are a great complement to one’s life. Hobbies slow us down and provide a sense of equilibrium - something we all could use in the fast-paced world of distraction and virtual living.
I encourage you to refocus your efforts to pursue a hobby. You'll soon discover the importance of hobbies. It’s good for you. Now on to crafting a Valentine card for Melissa … ~Ted
Hobbies help you structure your time. According to Parkinson’s law, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." More simply, things take as much time as you have. So, when the evening stretches out before you, unscheduled, you might find yourself laboring over that work project or answering emails into the wee hours. Chances are, if you had choir practice or a book club meeting that night, you would get those tasks done much more quickly. So, hobbies can seem to create more time by encouraging efficiency.
Hobbies promote flow. Left to our own devices, we often opt for passive leisure—TV and web surfing are at the top of most people’s lists. And, sure, we all need to veg out from time to time. But we are so much more invigorated by active leisure, the sort of thing psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow activities. If you’ve ever lost yourself in a sport, art project, or other challenging, absorbing activity, you’ve experienced flow. Time flies, self-consciousness disappears, and you are fully immersed in the activity at hand. Hobbies, especially those that stretch our skills, foster this desirable and increasingly elusive state.
Hobbies can foster new social connections. While some hobbies are solitary endeavors, many get us out in our communities, meeting people we otherwise wouldn’t, sharing our passions, and forming new bonds. Countless studies have found that social connection is a key component of happiness and a meaningful life, and hobbies have the potential to create precious new ties.
Hobbies make you interesting. Hobbies give you something to talk about at parties and around the water cooler. They add layers to your identity, richness to your self-concept. People want to be around those with passions, with a sense of curiosity, with stories to tell. You not only feel more inspired when you have a rich and active life, but you will inspire others as well.
Hobbies help you cope with stress. Imagine a rough day at the office, where you were harshly criticized by your boss. Coming home and turning on the TV may provide a brief distraction, but it doesn’t address your damaged ego head-on. Now imagine that after work you head out to your soccer league or pottery class. These activities are more than merely distracting. They remind you that that are many facets to your self-concept. Employee, yes, but also athlete or artist. As such, a blow to one aspect of your identity is less damaging. Simply put, your eggs aren't all in one basket.
And the benefits can spill over into other aspects of your life. If you can designate an hour a day or even a few hours a week for something you feel truly inspired and enlivened by, don’t be surprised if some of that newfound zest carries over into your work and family life.
So, now that you see the importance of hobbies, what should you choose as your new hobby? Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, like learning to knit, garden or play the piano. Maybe there’s something you used to love that you’ve stopped doing. Perhaps you could reach out to a new organization: a community choir, softball team, or book club. If you’re feeling really open-minded, you could browse the local newspaper and pick something on a whim: “Beekeeping! Now that sounds interesting.” Just don’t follow that phrase with, “Ah, well. Maybe someday, when the kids leave the house or when I retire.” Carve out the time and find a hobby now! You have more time than you think you do.