What Is A Hobby And Why Is It Important

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The general definition of a hobby is something that a person does as a fun activity during his or her free time. It is also something that is looked forward to as a relaxing or leisurely activity after a long day at work.

But a 1973 study on leisure activities, established a better definition of a hobby. The study described a hobby as a voluntary activity that people want to do during their free time.

It also involves the use of abilities and resources resulting in satisfaction, fulfillment, or both.

3 Main types of hobbies

The 15-year study led by Dr. Robert Stebbins interviewed participants about the hobbies they engaged in.

In their interviews, they observed that participants took pains to emphasize that hobbies gave meaning to them. And also that they were passionate about their hobbies.

As a result, the research identified the 3 main types of hobbies as follows:

Project-Based

Project-based hobbies or leisure activities are those which are done only occasionally because of an event.

Although done infrequently, this particular hobby still involves time. Time for planning, creativity, some skill or knowledge, and effort. The satisfaction comes from the successful completion of the activity.

Festivals, birthdays, and holidays are some illustrations of this type of activity. Other special occasions such as weddings, engagements, or anniversaries are also good examples.

Casual

Casual leisure or hobby is an activity that is described as “just having fun.” This is due to the fact that the reward is immediate but fleeting. A casual hobby also does not need any special skill or training to take part in.

Simply put, casual hobbies are activities that you engage in solely for the sake of enjoyment.

These activities include watching television or playing video games. Other examples are listening to music, sitting, eating, and drinking alcohol. Things that come naturally as a pleasurable activity to participate in.

Serious Leisure

Serious leisure or hobby on the other hand involves consistency in the engagement of the activity. An activity that is considered highly significant, interesting, and fulfilling.

Furthermore, it is a hobby or activity in which participants may find a career. That is by acquiring and expressing a unique set of skills, knowledge, and experience.

The term “serious” in this type of hobby, denotes certain qualities in the participant. Some of the qualities mentioned include passion, sincerity, importance, and carefulness.

Furthermore, the following characteristics distinguish serious leisure or hobby from the casual hobby:

  • the need to persevere in the activity
  • the availability or possibility of a career in the said activity
  • the need to put in an effort to gain skill and knowledge
  • the realization of various special benefits
  • there is a distinct group or groups of people who are dedicated to or interested in the activity.
  • an appealing personal and social identity.

Importance of a hobby

As the study on leisure progressed over the years, sub-types in each of the main types of hobbies also emerged. But just having actual research dedicated to leisure activities should tell us something.

And that something is that it emphasized the importance of having a hobby in our lives. The pursuit of a hobby enriches our lives and eventually leads to a deep sense of self-fulfillment.

Benefits of a hobby

There are many compelling reasons why everyone should have at least one hobby. However, the following are the primary benefits:

Offers stress relief

In 2010, researchers developed a scale they called the Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test scale. This scale measures the effect of hobbies and other leisurely activities on a person’s overall health.

In this research, they found that people who engage in hobbies ranked higher on the said scale.

Those with high scores on the enjoyable activities test showed lower levels of negative moods and depression. They also have a higher positive outlook compared to those who scored lower on the test.

Relieves boredom

Aside from stress relief, another benefit from having a hobby is the relief from boredom. Hobbies will allow for something to do during your free time. It will make your time well spent making you feel more satisfied and happy.

Improves social life

With a hobby, you will be able to connect with other people who enjoy the same hobby as you do. Having a strong social connection helps with mental health as well as longevity.

Improves confidence

Having a hobby provides you with a challenge. And engaging in a challenging hobby on a regular basis will allow you to excel at it while also gaining or improving self-confidence.

A soft skill that you can apply in the workplace or in other social situations.

Helps prevent bad habits

When you have a hobby to fill your free time, you avoid engaging in activities that only waste your time.

An example of a time-wasting activity is spending time arguing with people on social media. Aside from being unproductive, this activity is also highly toxic.

Improves physical health

Various research indicates that engaging in hobbies will improve a person’s overall health.

According to the Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test scale, those with high scores have lower BMIs and blood pressures and are less stressed.

What hobby to start

If you’re already into a hobby, then you’re all set. Although you might just want to try something new just for the fun of it.

But, if you’re one of the many who are unsure what hobby to start with, consider the suggestions discussed below.

Interests

These are the things you’ve always wanted to learn more about. You start by making a list of everything you’re interested in and then try each of these interests on for size.

Along the way, you may decide that some of the things on your list are not worth pursuing. While the rest are interesting but not engaging or challenging enough.

Keep at it though, scratch some and add some until you find the right hobby to keep you engaged, challenged, happy, and satisfied.

Get inspiration from daily activities

Another way to choose a hobby to try is to look into your daily activities. Sometimes we go through our days routinely that we fail to notice that some of them can become potential hobbies.

Some examples are packing lunch for school or office. You may consider doing them bento-style? Or for the dishes or laundry, consider DIY-ing your cleaning materials to get the right ingredient for efficient cleaning?

You can also go for making your own luxurious bath soaps. These can be fun give-aways.

Looking at your daily activities from another perspective will help you find a great hobby that is suitable for you.

Exercise

Yes, exercise is a hobby. And since we have established that having a hobby can do wonders for your health, then exercising as a hobby is even better.

Also, exercise offers various fun activities that you can choose from such as running, pilates, yoga, Zumba, barre, etc.

Self-improvement

If you prefer your leisure time to still be productive, then tailor your hobby to fit your personality. Reflect on yourself and see if there are things or habits that you want to improve.

Choose one that will assist you in making a positive shift in your life then go ahead and do it.

One example of this will be public speaking. Being able to speak up will help you in your career and social life, so make it your hobby. Join public speaking, storytelling, or creative writing groups.

Try something new

Additionally, you can try something that you’ve never done before. Have you tried rock climbing? Needleworks? Wood carving?

There may be a variety of activities that are unfamiliar to you but will appeal to your sense of adventure.

Research new things and see which ones pique your interest enough for you to try.

The cost of a hobby

When choosing a hobby to start, include in your consideration the cost of getting into the activity. Almost all hobbies will cost something because you need to buy materials that are needed for them.

Even leisure activities that are considered low-cost such as jogging or running. These activities will require good shoes intended for their purpose.

Crafting will also require the purchase of various craft materials that will add up to your expense.

So once you have decided on a hobby, keep in mind to start small. You don’t have to go all out on a hobby that you are just trying out because some hobbies can prove to be expensive.

Incidentally, if you’ve considered proceeding with the hobby, you may need to create a budget for its maintenance or ongoing pursuit.

Time investment

Another factor to consider when looking for a new hobby is the amount of time you have for the activity. Remember that it should be done in your spare time so it does not interfere with your work and social responsibilities.

What if you don’t have the time? In that case, you might want to keep track of how much time you spend each day.

Start by listing all your activities in a day and the approximate amount of time spent for each. Most likely, you may have spent a few hours on social media.

Therefore, when choosing between a hobby or social media and other time-wasters, our time will be better spent on a hobby.

In the end, it will all boil down to priorities and benefits. Setting aside time for family, work, and other social activities is important. And so is the time for ourselves and our hobbies.

Commitment

Once you’ve found a hobby that’s fun and challenging, within your budget, and that you have time to devote to, then, by all means, commit to it. If you do, you will undoubtedly reap the benefits of having a hobby.

Granted, there will be distractions or some other trendy activities that will lure you away from the one you started. But you should keep in mind that you gain nothing by jumping from one hobby to the next.

Setting a goal that you want to achieve from your hobby will certainly help you to commit. With small steps and regular engagement with your hobby, it will become a habit.

What are your thoughts on hobbies and their importance? Please share them in the comments below.

Outside links:

How to find a hobby
Importance of hobbies
The Serious Leisure Perspective

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