Last week, we talked about the results of a recent survey on living long and happy lives — more specifically, how creativity and hobbies ranked important among the factors many people attribute to living long and happy lives.
We also touched on how sometimes it’s difficult to come up with a hobby and keep up with a hobby — especially when adult matters like school and work, jobs, and parenting (I’m getting tired just typing those) can dominate our everyday lives.
I also said we’d discuss that more later, so here we are!
To help get you started thinking about a hobby or hobbies you might want to pursue, ask yourself the following five questions.
1. What Were Your Childhood Interests?
“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin
Think back to what you really, really liked doing as a kid. The things you did because you wanted to and not because an adult told you that from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday evening, you’d be doing that thing.
For me, those things were reading, writing, and practicing my flute (especially flipping through my mom’s old records and trying to figure out the flute notes to my favorite songs — this was before the internet was in everyone’s home, much less everyone’s back pocket).
Sure, I also enjoyed hanging out with my friends, swimming, and cheerleading, but these were not the things that took me away from everyday life. These weren’t the things that, when I was doing them, I was thinking only of them.
2. Do You Have Any Forgotten Past Hobbies?
Are you still interested in any hobbies from the past?
I spent a couple of years in my twenties being really into photography. I wasn’t great, but some of my pictures turned out really good and the quest for those really good pictures kept me going.
I can’t remember why I eventually stopped, but now in my thirties, I have no interest in picking it back up.
3. What Are Your Guilty Pleasures?
What do you seem to always do?
When you’re out shopping, running errands, or hanging with friends, do you:
- Always have to swing by the produce section before checking out?
- Always have to stop at the bookstore before heading home?
- Always have to hear the specials before ordering?
Maybe you’d be interested in taking up gardening, short story writing, or cooking unique dishes as a hobby?
4. Can You Turn Your Interests Into Hobbies?
Think about what you’re interested in and how you can spin that into an actual activity.
For example, if you’re interested in physical fitness, maybe you’d like to organize and maintain a weekly neighborhood running group? Or if animal welfare floats your boat, maybe you’d enjoy creating and designing a line of dog collars with proceeds going to your local animal shelter?
5. Do Your Friends Have Any Interesting Hobbies?
My husband would be a great friend to have for anyone looking to “sample” some interesting hobbies. He’s into playing guitar, archery, leather work, motorcycles, and camping — and that’s honestly just to name a few.
(He’s also really into watching a YouTube channel featuring a man from Kentucky building a cabin, but I’m not sure what that’s leading to just yet.)
Notice if any of your friends have hobbies that interest, or could interest, you. Bonus points for choosing a friend who’s super experienced with the activity and would be a great resource for helping you get started.
Additionally, think about a few factors that can affect any hobby: time, budget, and skill.
- Time. Think about how much time you have to devote to a hobby. I’m not saying let your free time dictate your hobby, necessarily, and we know that sometimes you have to prioritize your hobbies and other interests or else other parts of everyday life can get in the way, but at the same time you probably don’t want to try getting into learning a musical instrument if you can only practice twice a month.
- Budget. How does your bank account fare against the costs associated with the hobby? Also, if the activity you’re interested in is generally fairly expensive, are there ways you can scale back without sacrificing the overall spirit of the activity?
- Skill. This isn’t meant to discourage you from any activity, but it is meant to point out that some activities have a certain skill level prerequisite and it’s probably best to get a good grip on those before moving up. For example, let’s say you want to get into boxing but you get winded walking up a flight of stairs. Maybe it’s best to work on your cardio first, or at least while you’re learning and practicing the basics of boxing.
Finally, remember that hobbies don’t have to create something. Sure, it’s fun to be creative and you should definitely find a creative hobby (say, one that produces a finished product like photography, music, or painting), but a non-creative hobby can benefit your happiness and well-being just as much. Bird watching, surfing, and hiking don’t create anything, but they’ll leave you fulfilled all the same.
Now, it’s Friday (if you’re reading this the day it’s published!) so your weekend homework is to take these questions and other considerations and come up with at least one solid idea for a hobby you think is worth pursuing.
Don’t forget to come back and let us know what it is — and why — in the comments below!