Start making trains out of safety matches. Raise cobras. Put tiny vessels into tiny bottles. Do whatever it takes to move your mind from your problems for a while. And if you can create something nice in the process, why not doing it?
A hobby it’s like a game you play seriously. You set up a time and space for it but you do it especially for fun. It’s like your own private territory where nobody can trespass without your authorization.
Hobbies are in fact just infant passions, markers for something which can become even bigger. Treat them nicely and they can eventually evolve into grown up passions that will fuel your life with enthusiasm and fulfillment.
Be serious about playing with your hobbies.
Why A Hobby Is Good For You
If you are a regular visitor of this blog (or if you saw my about me video) you know that I consider that I have only two qualities: curiosity and stubbornness. If you wonder where hobbies are fitting in this combo, well, they will obviously fall into the “curiosity” part.
If you look up the word “hobby” on the Internet, you will most likely stumble upon this definition form Wikipedia:
“A hobby is a regular activity that is done for pleasure, typically during one’s leisure time.”
There are two important words here: the first one is ‘pleasure’ and the second one is ‘leisure’. Hobbies are created primarily for relaxation, for taking out the tension from a busy schedule. And they are consumed during the time we put aside for them.
And there are also two major implications of this definition:
1. A hobby will have to create pleasure. If it doesn’t do that, if it’s not pleasurable, it won’t be a hobby. I suspect the name will be, in fact, “chore”.
2. A hobby will never make you fell under pressure (meaning you can leave it suspended for a while, and then revive it when you have time)
Now that we went over the definition part, let’s see how hobbies are in fact good for you.
The mere need for a hobby is created by some imbalance in other areas of your life. You work too hard, or your work is boring, for instance. Or it may be that the hobby is in fact your deep need to express your creative side. If the hobby is geared towards creating stuff (houses from matchsticks) you may be un undercover artist.
Whatever the cause, the final result is something that pleases you. Surprisingly enough, most of the time it’s not the object, it’s the activity, the stuff that you’re doing, not the things you’re piling up or creating. If you’re collecting stamps, or old coins, the thrilling of getting after a precious object is what creates the feeling of pleasure, not the stamp, or the coin. When you’re building stuff, the biggest pleasure is taken from the actual activity, not from the end result. If it would be the end result, you would stop after the first house made of matchsticks.
Now, the activity may be pleasurable, but the fact that you don’t feel any pressure is the real “secret sauce” of this hobby recipe. That’s what it makes it taste so good. That lack of pressure is what makes you feel confident enough to pursue it, even when you’re going very slow, or when you’re not mastering the skills, or when you don’t have the necessary materials, and so on and so forth. There’s no rush. It’s just a hobby, you know?
These two combined – a pleasurable activity and no pressure – are actually what we thrive for in life. Doing things we love, continuously and without any pressure, well, that’s basically the definition of paradise. We all dream of a life in which things we do are creating pleasure constantly and in which we won’t feel the stress.
From this point of view, a hobby is in fact a “miniature life”, a part-time life we’re living, by lack of a real life. Maybe conditions are not good enough for us to do pleasurable things day in and day out, without feeling the constraint of the bills at the end of the month. Maybe we simply can’t afford that. It’s ok. As a matter of fact, this is the harsh reality for the vast majority of people on this earth.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life altogether. We may spend whatever time is needed to make the life moving forward, to pay the bills, to honor our promises, to keep our houses clean, and then, after that, we can enjoy our hobbies.
Sometimes, people grow their hobbies to such a level that they may become a lifestyle. They can create enough value to make the old kind of life obsolete. In my experience, this is not the norm. It may happen, and it happens a lot, but it’s not a rule that says: if you have a hobby and you pursue it fiercely, it will become a lifestyle. If you begin to think like that, you will actually put pressure on the hobby. And it will cease to be a hobby, becoming a chore instead.
But when this happens, it’s wonderful. When you really migrate from this part-time life, from this sometimes secret and concealed life to the light, affording to pay your bills and cover your needs, well, that’s magic.
The mere thought that this may happen one day is enough to keep you smiling while you’re writing on that blog, or building that house of matchsticks.
Who knows, it may really happen someday. 🙂
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.