It’s simple, really. When you start taking day-to-day life too seriously, even when things go bad, there is a part of you that can still do things. I’m not talking about watching TV or seeing a movie. I mean hobbies where you make stuff from nothing. You take a part of you and inject it into some activity. Suffice it to say, I think people who engage in hobbies are happier and more often content. Well, of course, I could be wrong.
In this article, I write about why you need a hobby and what they do for you.
Here’s why you need hobbies in a nutshell:
- Hobbies are the best schooling you’ll ever have
- You can do something enjoyable because you’re not getting paid for it
- Hobbies create more free time
- You discover skills you never knew you needed
- Reminds you to play like a child
Read on for my thoughts about the need for hobbies.
Do you have too many hobbies?
I am one of those people who have too many hobbies. Just check out the varied topics on this site! Photography, miniature painting, 3D printing, fountain pens and typewriters, and everything in between!
Is it even possible to have too many hobbies? It’s almost like an addiction. As a student of human behavior (not professional or formal, just observational), I notice that some individuals love the novelty of starting something new.
I get excited all the time when I ponder the idea of a new project. Omg, this <thing> is going to be amazing. That rush is captivating.
We are built to enjoy discovery. It’s human nature to want to experience things. Ever since we are children, we want to play with that shiny new toy. It doesn’t matter that we just got a new gadget yesterday.
Today, I need something different.
What is it with this irrational desire for a thrilling new-ness?
Hobbies do this for us. The hobby space is always changing, never the same. Or, at least it shouldn’t be the same. I know when I’m painting miniatures (see some of it here), I do get bored.
When I do burnout, I tend to go for the next best thing: another hobby.
I’ve been asked this question a lot: how come you have so many hobbies?
My honest answer to myself is that I think “I’m running away from something”.
I am scared of something and hobbies are a safe place. Is this anxiety? I have no idea.
The other reason I may have a ton of hobbies is because I enjoy learning. I’m the kind of person who loves to experiment with things to learn about them. I’ll take apart my smart phone to see its innards.
Or, I may pull the fire alarm in a restaurant just to hear what it sounds like (yes, I did this when I was about 5 years old). Wait, what?
What I do know is that my hobbies have taught me a lot about things. I have so many skills. A bunch of them are useless, but others have come in handy in so many situations!
Hobbies is the best schooling you’ll ever have
Children play all the time. Young animals, too.
Young wolf pups tumble and play-fight with each other. They chase their tails. What is all this for?
Battle. They are preparing for a hard life.
We have hobbies because play is essential to survival.
Do you want to have a successful future? Take up a hobby when you’re young (or start one now!). People who have hobbies tend to me more grounded and successful in their lives (source#1, source #2).
When I’m working on a miniature, or out taking photographs of things, I’ve switched out of my normal mode of operation. My mind isn’t doing what it’s normally used to.
I think this change in perspective is amazing for personal growth. Ugh, this sounds so cliche.
Alright, let’s put it another way.
Hobbies teach you how to have fun.
There is no school in the world that teaches you how to have fun. Even the best liberal arts school will drive you into a routine.
Child-like playtime is the the best school you will ever attend. I’m sure of this. At a biological level, and with personal experience, this is what I now believe.
School yourself in the art of play through hobbies. Engage in an activity that uses all your senses. Play a sport, make something cool, or simply engage with a book.
Hobbies are important, because you don’t get paid
Hobbies are a paradox.
Hobbies are essential for survival, but only if you avoid obtaining that material need: money.
I remember when I started painting on commission I was so excited. Finally, I was getting paid to paint models. I would be able to do something fun and get money for it!
Then, after the first 2 or 3 painting projects, that excitement faded to black.
The dark reckoning that I had to paint. There was no choice anymore. Not only did I have to finish the job (as a professional), but I was instructed to do so a certain way. Even the more creative projects, where I could choose color schemes, etc., required I keep with the same motif over and over.
When you’re painting on commission, you must place the client first at all times. This means hitting deadlines and meeting expectations. This is part of the professionalism.
Sure, the money was great. It funded many other hobbies and activities. I paid off debts. I love that part of painting commission work.
But, painting on commission also took the fun out of the normal day-to-day mini painting I did.
- It was no longer, oh, cool time to paint and relax.
- Working on a paid project became a time to paint this project no matter how I feel.
“Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”― G. K. Chesterton
Money doesn’t add to enjoyment, according to psychology (source). Well, if true, that also means that money detracts from enjoying things, too.
Go do (have?) a hobby. But, remember if you really want to enjoy that time, refuse to materially benefit from it (well, if you can).
There’s something insidious about money.
The idea of money robs you, while you’re getting paid.
Hobbies create free time
How do hobbies create free time? Isn’t it the other way around?
No. If you’ve made hobbies a priority, you will make time for yourself. You won’t get stuck in a rut at work. Getting off from your job clock so you can do what you enjoy more will force you to become more efficient.
You’ll be a better worker at the mundane responsible stuff, because you want to have more free time.
Seek first your priority, and all the other things will fall into place.
Take a stroll with your camera and capture those unique moments. The paradox of engaging with hobbies is that by disconnecting, you will connect with everything else much better.
“In my country, we can’t afford watches, but we have all the time. In America, you have watches, but no time”.Unknown
Hobbies are a luxury
Look, I don’t want my privilege showing too much. Because, that’s what hobbies are. They are a privilege. If you’re reading this site on a computer you own, you are one of the few on Earth with the resources to have a choice.
Sure, there are some free hobbies, but all hobbies cost time.
Put another way, if you can even consider doing a hobby, then you have an abundance of time and material resources.
Don’t take this privilege, lightly. It is a sad person who says on their death bed that they spent more time at the office/job, especially one they didn’t thoroughly love.
Sure, not everyone can stop working in a job they don’t like (or hate). Food must be purchased. Lights must go on. But, for those that can afford it, hobbies can take the sting out of life’s responsibilities.
I guess what I’m saying is: don’t take your free time for granted.
Life isn’t all sweet and sour. The facade of your life is more than the things you do or think.
On a superficial level, sure, hobbies are fun.
But, deeper, hobbies feed into your need for discovery and adventure. Hobbies are about you, your interests, and your dreams for places and things that may not never exist.
Hobbies make everyday you live more tangible. This is why I write for this site. While you may not live a life of travel to faraway places, you can still escape down the rabbit hole.
Have you seen the toothy smile of a child doodling with a crayon, or squeezing play dough?
It’s a freaking mess! But, who cares!
…this is why we have hobbies.