By Acadia Otlowski
Whenever it seems like someone may have too much time on their hands, those around them often joke, “Get a hobby.”
But kidding aside, having a hobby is an extraordinarily important aspect of living a healthy life. Without hobbies, life becomes unbalanced, all about work and less about play. And while work is important, it can become overwhelming when there is nothing else.
By hobby, I do not mean sitting on the couch and watching television. Hobbies should be something constructive, an escape from the doldrums of life.
To put it simply, a good hobby puts the spice back in life. Whether you are under stimulated or over stimulated, a hobby will either provide a challenge or a break, depending on what you need in your life.
Over the weekend I indulged in my own hobby, hula hooping. I went to a flow arts and fire spinning retreat called Wildfire, which features a group of people learning to manipulate objects to produce complex patterns and illusions. Then to take those same skills and transfer them to objects lit on fire.
Everyone there had that one thing in common. And so when we came together at a Boy Scout camp in Ashford, Connecticut, suddenly spinning transformed from a solitary activity to a communal one. There were classes and spontaneous skill-sharing circles.
This is another benefit of having a hobby you are willing to spend a little time with. Hobbies will draw together a different group of people into being friends, simply because of the shared interest. This is a better group of friends than say, friends from school or friends from your job, because often the place where you became friends is all you have in common.
With a hobby it is different. You can connect with a group of people and bond over the exchange of ideas related to the hobby the group shares.
What I saw at Wildfire was that these idea-sharing sessions resulted in a flood of new ideas, further increasing the benefits of the hobby.
But the most important concept behind hobbies is the idea of relaxing and staving off burnout. We work so hard in our daily lives that sometimes we forget to focus on us. When we dedicate too much of our lives to our jobs, we get tired and uninspired. A good hobby should prevent this.
Spinning has become and escape from reality, a balancing factor in my life. This should be the affect of a good hobby. Instead of fully becoming my schoolwork and job, I have a separate identity in which to escape into.
It should be something that will make you happy and even out the negatives in life. It might take some time to find the hobby that inspires you to the point of passion. It doesn’t have to be complicated or as obscure as object manipulation. It may take a little more effort than sitting on the couch eating chips, but in the end it will be so much more satisfying.