Why a hobby will make your life better

Do you have a hobby? In other words, an activity that you enjoy doing just for the sake of it. Why is having a hobby beneficial to your happiness and wellbeing? Read on …

Have a hobby; be happy

More and more Americans say they have no hobbies. The New York Times put it like this:

For many of us, expectations of an “always-on” working life have made hobbies a thing of the past, relegated to mere memories of what we used to do in our free time. Worse still, many hobbies have morphed into the dreaded side hustle or as paths to career development, turning the things we ostensibly do for fun into … more work. (“Like embroidery? You should be selling your creations on Etsy!”).

… Yes, studies have shown that having a hobby can make you more productive at work, but hobbies can also remind you that work isn’t everything.

Above all, this lack of down time to focus on hobbies is partly because we’re all so busy these days. But there is another culprit for this sad state of affairs. This is the growing expectation, in our intensely public, performative age, that you have to be brilliant at what you do in your spare time:

  • If you’re a jogger, it’s not enough just to cruise round the block. You must be training for a marathon.
  • If you paint, you must be trying to land a gallery show. Or at the very minimum trying to get a respectable following on social media.

Similarly, when your identity is linked to your hobby: you’re a surfer, a rock climber, a runner, then you had better be good at it, or else who are you? This attitude is a terrible shame and could lead to a ‘why bother’ approach to life.

And if you don’t bother, then what’s left?

Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World as a dystopia. One where the inhabitants live a life of distraction. whose inhabitants are out by distractions. Lack of investment in a hobby means an endless stream of content. A Silicon Valley world where humans, pacified by ever more elaborate entertainment forms.

A hobby should be pure, childlike delight in learning something new. For instance, a delight that comes without the burden of excellence or self-judgement when we don’t meet an impossible standard. Even becoming  minimally competent is highly rewarding.

After all, the affluent modern era is supposed to have freed us from the exigencies of brute survival, so that we have time to pursue purpose, joy and contentment.

In conclusion, why cheat ourselves of one of life’s greatest rewards: trying, failing, learning and enjoying the experience.

What do you think? Why not leave a comment below?

Photo by Alan Bishop on Unsplash

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