“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” ~ Wayne Dyer
Recently, I went to the funeral of my friend’s father. I have–fortunately or unfortunately–been to my fair share of funerals in my short life. They can be uplifting and inspiring, as they celebrate the whole life of the honored individual and the sum or his or her goodness, actions, and legacy. This funeral was unlike any other funeral I had ever been to. The man celebrated was praised for living his life to the fullest extent by digging deep into his hobbies and bringing his loved ones along with him. There was endless talk of his love of Harley Davidson rides, fountain pens, Mexican food, DIY projects, fixing cars, repairing sprinkler systems, running, traveling…and how these hobbies were done with those he loved the most. The man was more interesting than any five people combined, and even though I never met him, I left the service feeling like I knew him personally. It was truly inspiring. What I felt most pressing after the funeral was to get the most out of life by exploring my interests–because as I do this, I will be a better friend, neighbor, family member…human! Bottom line is: Hobbies will help improve the relationships in and overall quality of your life.
We live in a world where self-care has almost become an indulgent thing…where YOLO and “treat yo’ self” are the excuses to nearly any self-gratifying opportunity. Some frown upon such indulgences. I am here to tell you that, within reason, there is a place for self-care, self-indulgence, and hobbies. Having hobbies is not something you only do for yourself…it is not something you do to distract yourself from life or to “endure” hardships. They can fill you up when you feel empty, recharge you when you are depleted, reignite your spark for joy or relationships or whatever it might be. Here are a few of the advantages of having hobbies:
- Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Activities that get you out and about can make you feel happier and more relaxed which attributes to lower rates of depression.
- Having a hobby can help your social life and create a bond with new people. Group activities like team sports can improve your communication skills and relationships with others.
- Hobbies help you relax and seek pleasure in activities that are not associated with work, chores or other responsibilities, which alleviates everyday stressors.
- Hobbies help you become more patient. In order to develop a new hobby, you have to learn how to do something that is brand new to you. There will be a learning curve, and you will need to be patient in order to build new skills and increase your knowledge.
- Learning a new hobby boosts your confidence and self-esteem. It is empowering to learn something new!
- Hobbies reduce or eradicate boredom. They give you something to do when you find yourself with nothing to fill your time, which helps prevent bad habits and wasting time.
- It enriches your life and gives you a different perspective on things. It makes life (and you) more interesting! People who have hobbies have experiences and stories that they can share with others. They also have specialized knowledge that they can teach to anyone who also has an interest in the same topics as they do.
You might be saying, in your head, that you detest running, yoga is boring, most birds look the same, knitting is for old ladies, and you hate cleaning up from cooking or baking and so are wondering if you will ever find a hobby. So, let’s talk about how to find one! First, I would recommend paying attention to all the things that you have done by choice throughout your life. What do you choose for FUN when you have free time? What activities make you lose track of time or forget about the stresses of life? Think about what you choose to do in your free time and do more of that!
Second suggestion to finding a new hobby is to think about what makes you smile while you are doing it. I recently asked my friend this question and after a week or two of mulling it over she said, “Skiing. I beam the entire time I am on the mountain. Same with mountain biking. I am literally giddy when I get to ride my favorite trails!” She had not realized how much she enjoyed those activities until she made herself ponder what activities make her smile. So consider that–what activities make you smile?
And my last question to you is what did you love as a kid? Many of my clients will discover that as a child, they liked camping or painting or rollerblading or playing board games. You may feel like these hobbies (or many others) are too “childish” to participate in as an adult, but wrong-o! A hobby is any activity that is done regularly in your leisure time for pleasure. So YES, roller blading and water color painting and baking are all still options for you. Chances are, if you were interested in that stuff as a child, you still have a lot of those same core interests today!
If after those three suggestions, you are still unsure what hobbies to pursue, it might be useful to hit the nearest Hobby Lobby, sporting goods store, music emporium or book store to see what catches your attention. Craft blogger, Deborah at Creativity For Life, said, “Always checking out the latest fashion trends? Consider trying knitting or sewing. Are your walls adorned with fine art? Try painting. Are you always thumbing through short story books? Try writing your own. Your receipts might just hold the answers you’re looking for…” So if all else fails, follow your money trail, and dig deeper into what your spendings indicate you like.
A hobby is not a selfish pursuit. Hobbies can morph into a passion that gets you excited, helps you recover from a long day, and gets your mind working, which helps to boost your mood, strengthen your relationships, and improves your overall quality of life. THIS is why it is so important to have hobbies–it will make you a better spouse, partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, neighbor, coworker, employee…everything. So get out there. Find and participate in a hobby today that makes you beam. Live life to the fullest by having hobbies that enrich your life and the lives of those around you. Happy living!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.
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- Head to Health: Purposeful Activity–Hobbies
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