Got Hobby? Why Having One is Crucial to Your Happiness
Posted Sep 27 2013 8:56am
As you may or may not know, I recently gave birth to a beautiful, baby boy. I’m in love. It is amazing how such a small little being can be so dramatically life changing. As you also may have noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Taking care of a newborn is a bit consuming, but it is all worth it.
When designing my son’s nursery, I tapped into some of my old passions. Passions I’ve not tapped into for at least a decade, maybe more: my artistic talent. I also tapped into another passion: animals. I took great pleasure in creating a series of illustrations/paintings in a safari theme that now decorate the walls of his nursery. I had so much fun, I was sad when they were completed. I wanted to do more! It was then that I decided there was no reason it had to end. I would continue with my artwork and because sharing your passion with others can be fun, I decided to open an Etsy Shop – Tiny Toes Design. (I’d love if you were to go and check it out!)
Although spending time on a hobby might seem like a waste of time, it can be beneficial to people of all ages. Whether or not you’re fortunate enough to have a career that you’re passionate about, a hobby can bring a new dimension to your life.
Studies have shown that participation in activities for the pure enjoyment of them – no strings attached – helps to reduce stress levels. Spending time doing something you love, without the pressure of performance or success, gives you the opportunity to have fun and relax, and refocus on the “want tos” in life, rather than the “have tos.” Hobbies take your mind off everyday worries and allow you to unwind. And, depending on the hobby, you may reap physical benefits as well. Activities such as tennis or playing another type of sport can help you stay in shape, burn extra calories and ward off heart disease. Further, hobbies have been shown to ward off the effects of mental aging because they exercise the brain and help to keep it stimulated. Additional benefits of taking on a hobby may include discovering hidden talents, developing new skills, making new friends, and building stronger social and professional networks.
All of these benefits create a more enriched, fun and rewarding life that has more meaning and purpose over time. In short, it makes you happier.
Build in time you need to enjoy your hobbies. Schedule time at least one day a week when you know you can dedicate a couple of hours to something you love. For instance, if you love knitting, maybe it’s something you can do before bedtime, during your commute, or even while watching TV. If you love hiking, schedule a time when you know you’ll have sufficient time to get to a favorite park, as well as a few hours to get in a decent hike. Or if golf is a passion, block off several hours to ensure that you get through a full round of 18 holes. Finally, if your hobby doesn’t usually include the involvement of loved ones, make sure that you inform them of your desired hobby time so conflicts don’t arise.
Be a Kid Again: If you don’t already have a hobby, you’re in luck: there are hundreds to choose from. The process of finding a hobby can be just as much fun as the hobby itself. If having fun doesn’t come naturally or if you’re at a total loss as to what you should do, think about what brought you joy when you were a kid. What made you feel playful? What did you wish you could do “forever?” Obviously, what you enjoyed when you were young probably won’t translate directly to adulthood, but it’s definitely a starting point. For instance, if you loved arts and crafts, maybe you’d enjoy taking up scrapbooking, photography or painting. Or, if you loved gym class or recess, maybe you’d enjoy joining a local sports league, or taking up a new exercise activity.
Experiment: Your hobbies should capture your interest on a regular basis. They could have something to do with your job, or have nothing to do with it at all. Regardless, a hobby should make you happy.
Focus on Fun: Remember, having a hobby isn’t about how good you are at it; it’s about how much you enjoy it. Although you may have a desire to master your hobby, it’s important to put fun first. Avoid urges to be self-critical or let negativity disrupt your enjoyment level, as the benefits of a hobby are most powerful when you do things just for the sheer joy of them.
Be Spontaneous: If finding time for your hobby is a constant challenge, be open to experiencing it in spontaneous ways too. If you love to read, for instance, carry books with you everywhere you go so that whenever you have down time, you can take a few moments to read a few pages. If you love photography, carry a camera with you every day so that you can capture interesting or meaningful moments anytime, anywhere.