“Right. I am already struggling with my work-life balance. I have a job to do, a family to take care of and virtually no free time. And now this blogger person is telling me I should get a hobby on top of all that?!”
If that is something that you thought when you read the title of this article then you are in the right place. Yes, I am going to tell you that you should get a hobby on top of everything else that is going on in your life and, more precisely, I am going to explain why this is actually a really great idea.
Even if you didn’t think that, this article may be good for you if you have some doubts as to whether you should take up a new hobby or not. Or it may serve as an inspiration to carry on with the hobbies that you already have – I, for one, need it sometimes, and researching this post was great fun.
So, why is it that you should take up a hobby when you don’t have any free time as it is?
1. Having a hobby actually ‘creates’ more time.
Ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? Me neither – before I started researching for this article. You can read about it in more details here, but I’ll try to sum it up for you.
The main idea is that the work you have to do stretches out to take up the time you have. For example, you have some research to do for a work related project. If you have the whole evening free, you will probably be doing this research all evening. But if you have a, say, pottery class or a jam session with your band to go to at 8 p.m. you are more likely to finish your research by this time. Well, there won’t really be any extra time created, but you are likely to work faster, get distracted or procrastinate less, and you will probably accomplish the same amount of work or even more in a shorter period of time. And go to a pottery class to boot.
I hadn’t heard the name ‘Parkinson’s law’ before I wrote this post, but I have definitely noticed that the more I plan for the day (within reasonable limits, of course), the more I achieve. Try it, it really works!
2. It is a great opportunity to meet new people.
To think about it, it might not sound as such a good reason if you are a misanthropic introvert… However, meeting new people who share your interest is actually a lot of fun. You can make new friends or meet a love interest, maybe even a future partner – I know a great couple who met each other in a dance studio and another one who met in a karate school (imagine those family arguments… ). When I was a teenager I met my best friend of many years at a chess club. Others can also be an inspiration or great help when you are taking up a new activity.
3. Your life becomes more interesting and memorable.
Whatever your hobby, your life becomes more exciting if you fill it up with more than your job and household chores. When I took up white water rafting and paragliding, I traveled to some very beautiful places to do these sports. When I started doing yoga I discovered some amazing things about my body. Creative hobbies such as photography and drawing allow me to capture my emotions and at the same time create something beautiful that I can share with others. Even the hobbies that I just tried and never really took up (but maybe I will someday), like diving or scrapbooking, provided me with some amazing memories. So, if you are thinking about taking up a new hobby, don’t think twice – no matter the result, you will have some great fun memories to think back to.
4. You become more interesting.
No, I don’t want to say that you are boring. But a hobby can add a sort of extra layer to your personality, make you a bit more interesting as an individual. Think of the stories you will be able to tell, for example. Maybe even brag a little : ) It is really attractive when someone has an interest in life, a passion, and it can be really exciting to listen to such people talk about their hobbies. Also, having a hobby, being a bit more versatile, multifaceted, will make you more attractive as a potential love interest – if you are still searching for your significant other.
5. It gives you more confidence and a sense of achievement.
And it feels amazing. In 2015 I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. It is a challenge to write a 50 000 word book in a month. I did, and it was one of the best feelings in my life. The first draft of the book was rather poor, but that was not the point. I wrote a book, and that alone made me feel great. Later I reviewed it, made some corrections and now it is for sale on Amazon. I am not begging you to buy it, it is more of an example, but you can if you’d like, of course 🙂 Creative hobbies give you some material results. Sports improve your body, and you can take part in competitions. You can achieve something small every day and it feels great. It also gives you some bragging rights, but bragging should definitely be done in moderation.
6. A hobby can help you cope with stress.
Some activities, like yoga and meditation, are all about stress relief. Sometimes after an especially good yoga session a gloomy winter Monday evening actually feels like a sunny summer Saturday morning. Sports are great for fighting stress because they make you move your body and release ‘happy hormones’. But other types of hobbies are great against stress, too, at least to the extent that they allow you to switch from work and chores, think about something else, realize some of the creative potential that is not realized elsewhere.
7. Learning something new is good for your brain.
When you learn something new, you create new connections between the neurons in your brain and keep your brain active, which is good for your mind in the same way that sports are good for your body. For instance, there is research that shows that people who learn at least one foreign language have a lower risk of mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But it is true not only for foreign languages – learning new skills is an amazing way to keep your brain healthy and young.
8. It clears your mind and creates a sense of flow.
Most hobbies require a certain degree of concentration on what you are doing. It does not really clear your mind of ALL thoughts (I think you have to meditate for years to achieve that), but it does help you calm your mind, get rid of some obsessive thoughts, get ‘in the zone’, whatever that means for you. And a sense of flow is something you experience when you are absorbed by what you are doing and it feels great.
9. It increases your creativity.
When I tell people about some of my hobbies, they sigh and say, “Oh, but I am not creative enough to paint / write / play an instrument / etc.” But you know what? Neither am I. But I become more creative the more I practice. Talent is overrated. In reality, it is ‘ten percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration’ or something like that. You do not need talent to enjoy your hobby, and the more you do it the better you become.
I do not have a musical ear by nature. But I really wanted to learn to play the guitar. It took me a while, but I did. Now I play and sing moderately well, and I know that if I practice more I will improve further.
10. It makes you happier.
This point is actually the result of some of the previous and further points. Indeed, when you lead a more interesting and fulfilled life, meet new people and connect with them in a meaningful way, exercise your body and your mind – it all adds up and makes you a happier person.
11. It makes you more flexible and broadens your mind.
I am not talking about being physically flexible, although, of course, there are hobbies that do that as well. Learning new skills makes you more flexible mentally and more adapted to learning new skills. It may not be a goal in itself (why learn something new just to be able to learn more…), but it is a crucial skill in the fast-growing modern world, where we are constantly bombarded with new information and have to adapt to changes all the time.
12. A hobby can be another way to make a difference.
To be honest, I have not found my way into charity yet, but I will, and I believe that certain hobbies can be a great way to give back to the community or to help those in need. For example, you can teach what you do to others, maybe even for free, or you can sell what you craft and donate the money. Even small things can make the world a better place. One of my former students does pottery and he gives pottery classes to kids at a local monastery. I think it is an amazing way to both teach the kids something fun and creative and to keep a beautiful craft alive.
13. It is a way to be unique.
It may not be important for everyone, but as for me, I used to be obsessed with being different. It is by far not a primary motivation for me now, but I still enjoy standing out in some way. If that is something that you like as well, you can do it by taking up a more unusual hobby or by bringing something unique into a common one.
14. You will live longer.
Again, this point sums up some of the others. People live longer if they are happy, if they exercise regularly, if they know how to cope with stress and adapt well to the fast pace of life, if they have meaningful connections with friends and family – a hobby can help you achieve all that and more.
15. It can be a way to connect with your family / children.
A lot of hobbies are not supposed to be solitary – why not involve your family and do it together? But even if you have a quieter, more ‘individual’ hobby, you can still share it with your child or partner – or maybe you can try something they do and understand them better.
16. There can be all sorts of unexpected benefits.
Well, they are unexpected, after all, so it is hard to say something concrete, but I will give you a couple examples from my own experience to show what I mean.
As I have mentioned above, I have never had a musical ear. But I wanted to sing and play an instrument very much. You know what helped me, among other things? Learning foreign languages. I have been learning English since I was five, and I started German in middle school. When you are learning to speak and understand a foreign language there are bound to be sounds that are different from your native language or even do not exist there, so you need to listen carefully to understand and to speak correctly. Listening for these subtle differences helped me develop my hearing in general, which improved my musical skills as well.
And here is another example. I consider trying new things and doing various experiments and challenges a hobby as of itself. It contributed to some of my existing hobbies – I participated in Inktober and did a photo-every-day change for a year, which both had great influence on my photography and drawing skills. But it also led to new experiences which I may not have tried otherwise, such as taking part in NaNoWriMo link and writing a book, which I described above.
Well, isn’t that great? Just taking up a new hobby can improve your life significantly. But what if you still have doubts?
Breaking down a few misconceptions about hobbies – A bonus ‘no buts’ round
But it takes a lot of time!
It is true, but only partly. If you still think so, re-read point 1 above – a hobby can help you use time more efficiently, and you will actually seem to have more of it. And also, not every hobby has to take a lot of time. For example, you can start learning a foreign language with just 5 minutes a day. That’s not much, is it? : )
But it’s expensive!
This one, again, is partly true. Certain equipment and supplies can cost quite a lot. But there are also ways to get them cheaper, and a whole bunch of free resources for many hobbies (praise the Internet!). Here is a post with some recommendations on how to save money when taking up a new hobby.
But I am not creative!
Well, I have covered this in point nine – you don’t need to be creative to start, and practicing a creative hobby makes you more and more creative over time. The same goes for “I am not sporty” or “I am not flexible” – I am not naturally flexible myself, but doing yoga increased my flexibility literally in a matter of days.
But I live in a small town!
While it is true that bigger cities may offer more opportunities hobby-wise, living in a small town does not mean that you are cut off from the world of exciting hobbies. Nowadays you can get a lot of resources, materials and lessons online, and if you have to travel you do not always have to travel far.
But I do not know where to start / there is too much choice!
Yes, it does present some problem. But the good thing is that you can quite easily sample different activities, try a bit of this and a bit of that, until you settle on something more permanently. Also, there are a lot of resources online – including my blog, hey! 🙂 – that can tell you a lot about different exciting activities and help you choose.
But everyone / no one is doing it!
Honestly, who cares? If a hobby is popular and a lot of people are doing it, it might actually be a good thing: there will probably be a greater variety of places to learn it, resources and materials, and all the other people with the same hobby can be of great help – the Internet is full of discussion forums and blogs for various activities, where people share their experience, tips and useful resources. And you can always bring your own unique style into a common hobby.
In the modern world you will have to look very hard to find a hobby that nobody is doing, but more rare hobbies can indeed be less available: you may have to take some extra steps to find information, a teacher or good supplies and equipment. But it is not impossible – and you also get to be a pioneer of this rare hobby. Maybe you should start a blog about it! 🙂
To sum it up, taking up a hobby is good for you in so many ways, and the obstacles you see are, mostly, not really obstacles if you put your mind to it. So, what are you waiting for?
Has this post inspired you to try a new hobby? Or do you still have some doubts or questions? Maybe you have questions about some particular hobbies? Share your thoughts in the comments: I’d love to know what you think, and together we might be able to answer those questions and clear those doubts! 🙂