Personal Fulfillment: Why Hobbies Matter

I think it’s important to have hobbies in your life. I’ve shared three reasons why I think so. And I have been down the road before where I didn’t think I had time for them.

In my previous life, before I threw up my hands (and my career as a financial trader), moved to Wisconsin and started living a life I truly enjoyed, I didn’t have time for a hobby. I was like the guy in the recent New Yorker cartoon lying on the beach with his laptop. He says to his wife, “It’s not that I’m a workaholic. I just work to relax.”

If anyone had asked me if I had a hobby I would probably have said, “Yeah, I work. That’s how I spend my free time.” Well, as you probably agree, working between eighty and one hundred hours every week is not exactly conducive to having a hobby, and no, I don’t think working really counts as a hobby.

Back then, I didn’t think I needed a hobby. I wouldn’t admit, to myself or anyone else, how unhappy I was, how tired I was, or, toward the end, how much I hated every minute of it.

I have some activities in my life now that qualify as hobbies, and some time that qualifies as my own, and I can’t imagine not having either of those things.

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Yet I know so many people who say, “I don’t have time for hobbies. I have to work. And then I just want to relax in front of the television.”

I hear you. In fact, I believe that television can qualify as a hobby, in some instances. I know someone who likes to watch World War II documentaries on the weekends. He doesn’t have the time to read as much as he’d like, he’s very interested in World War II, and this gives him the opportunity to learn. This same guy has a sort of hobby of watching bad science fiction movies after dinner if his wife will let him, and he enjoys watching Japanese anime series from episode one to the finale.

That’s a hobby. Okay, yeah, he’s watching television, but he’s engaged with it. This is not background noise for him. He’s paying attention. Sometimes his wife or kids will watch with him and they’ll talk during the show, especially the B movies. It’s something to do together.

I don’t care if your hobby is watching The Sopranos, taking photographs, reading, or climbing mountains. I don’t think what the hobby is matters as much as having a hobby.

Having a hobby matters for three reasons, in my opinion.

First, in order to have a hobby, you have to have some free time. Having something you love to do almost forces you to work less and spend more time enjoying life.

Second, a hobby that you love is an expression of who you really are, and the more we can be reminded of this, the happier we’ll be.

Third, a hobby is usually something that can bring you closer to someone else, in some way. If you take photos, you’ll want to share them. If you read, you’ll want to talk to your friends about what you’re reading. Having a hobby takes you out of yourself. And maybe that’s the most important reason hobbies matter.

How can you bring the power of a hobby into your life?

  • Do you have a hobby, besides work?
  • If not, what would you like to do?
  • Find a way to do something today toward your hobby

Thanks to Sustaina Bee for including this post in the Small Actions to Change the World Carnival.