A while ago I came across an article that talked about the worrying trend of adults collecting stickers for sticker collections. The word 'worried' stuck me. Worrying is all those other terrible things adults do every day causing harm to themselves, others and the planet. Collecting stickers is not worried. I've talked before about adults engaging in playtime so will not go on about it here. My point is as adults it's okay to do the things we enjoy – hey is not life stressful enough?
Hobbies are a way of filling your leisure time with something you are interested in. The great thing about them is you can choose what you do. They are for your enjoyment and satisfaction. Whatever it is bird watching, playing soccer, collecting stamps, dancing, singing, there are a multitude of activities out there. They are perfect opportunities to express your creativity, curiosity, competitive nature, love of beauty and so much more. You may do it outside, inside, alone or with others. It does not matter what you do as long as you have chosen it and you enjoy it. Do not give a damn about what other people think – this is for you after all.
In this article I want to talk about some of the very good reasons why we should all have a hobby. Hopefully they will spur you on every week or even every day to take up a hobby, resume an old one or ramp up an existing passion.
1 Gives your life meaning and purpose
Having a hobby gives you a sense of purpose. It ensures you have something to live for, look forward to and get excited by. You do not have to wait for a grand once-in-a-lifetime vacation to get this feeling. You can have it every day just through your hobby. Obviously it would be nice if your job gave you meaning. Maybe it does. But for some, the lack of control may make it harder. However, with a hobby that you have chosen you are consciously and actively creating meaning in your life. There's even better news. Recent research has shown that people with a sense of purpose live longer. Hobbies are an opportunity for you to set yourself goals and then use your free time to achieve them. Your time is spent on something that is important to you. By taking up a hobby, suddenly your life has a direction it may not have had previously.
2 Managing stress
Life can be super stressful. We have so many demands and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. However if you have a pastime you can turn to during difficult times you will be doing wonders for your health. Because too much stress leads to physical changes in the body that can cause long term harm. For some, it may be worth choosing a hobby that gives your life more balance. If you spend your days in an office in silence, then it may pay to engage in something fairly social. Or if you unfortunately need quiet me-time, then go for it. The point is your hobby should be fun and certainly not add to your stress. Let your hobby work for you.
3 Living in the moment
How often are any of us actually in the moment? So many of us worry about the things that we have to get done in a day. We're doing one thing, while thinking about what we have to do next. Or we spend our time living for the weekend or a vacation, taking no notice of the present. Then there's those people who ruminate over the past – so tied up with thoughts and worries about things that have happened, they are barely aware of their current situation. Having a hobby that you set aside time for can allow you to be worry free and just focus on the here and now. Allow yourself to be immersed in the activity will do wonders for your wellbeing. The next tip will help you do just that.
4 Good opportunity for a flow experience
A flow experience is one of those moments when you are so immersed in an activity that everything else is forgotten. Have you ever been so focused on something that you do not even notice how hungry you are until you have finished the task? It is likely you were experiencing flow. Experiencing flow can do wonders to your happiness as you are attending to something that is giving you value and offers a great feeling of achievement.
To increase your chances of flow whilst engaging in a hobby, it is worth choosing a hobby that meets the following conditions for flow. Firstly you should have a goal. It directs your attention as appropriate. What do you hope to achieve with your choice of hobby? Goals can be ongoing, short term and long term. Secondly you should have a good balance between your perceived skills and perceived challenges. Do not take up a hobby that is so beyond your skill set you get frustrated. Saying that, you want it to engage you so you do not become bored. If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, what can you do to increase the challenge? Finally, it is important to obtain feedback. How are you doing with your hobby? You can ask yourself this question or gauge the opinion of another who you trust to be fair.
5 Being active in life
Using your leisure time well by having a hobby means you are being active in your life and engaged. You are not letting life pass you by. Passive activities like watching TV are not hobbies and do little for your wellbeing. Another problematic activity is spectator sport. Just watching a sport does little for your happiness and you are not actively involved (no matter how much you think you are as you shout at the opposing team or the ref). However, if you do enjoy a particular sport, there are ways to become actively involved with it – perhaps by playing or teaching the sport, or being involved with supporters clubs.
6 Get to make friends
Having an interest is a great opportunity to get to know other people. Whatever your hobby is, you will find plenty of other people doing the same. This can be especially useful as a beginner where you are keen to learn everything about your new hobby from those more experienced. Of course, some hobbies and interests would require that you get to know other people. Perhaps you decide it's time to dust off your football boots and join a team. You love football – and being in a team means you immediately get to know many other people with a shared interest. Friendships are important and there is research that shows having social support can help you live longer.
Remember also, the internet can be a great source of support and it is not uncommon for people to make friends this way. As you get started on your hobby, take a look at related blogs, forums and Facebook pages.
7 Something just for you
Even if you get just a few hours a week to get stuck into your hobby – this is your time. You do not have to worry about work, family, friends, anyone. We all have so many obligations and responsibilities. There is nothing wrong with having me-time. It is essential to manage stress. If you believe you do not have time for a hobby then you need to do a quick assessment of your life. It's all about balance. Hopefully by now you are convinced of the value of having a hobby.
8 Feeling of achievement
With a hobby you can set goals – both long term and short term. This will give you an ongoing feeling of achievement that you have total control over. It feels good to achieve things. You feel you have made good use of your time. You may even like to keep a journal or even a blog that records your achievements for you to look back over. It's amazing how quickly things can build up – even if you only commit a small amount of time each week to your hobby.
Remember though, whatever hobby you do – it's for you so should be something you enjoy or think you might enjoy. Do not be afraid to try new things or expand your existing skills. And have fun!