Finding Grace in the Simplicity of Our Pastimes: Rethinking Hobbies

When asked to name a hobby, do you have an immediate answer? Many people might respond with interests like fishing, pottery, or gardening. But it’s not uncommon to find ourselves at a loss when asked this seemingly straightforward question. It’s an inquiry that can trigger a bout of anxiety or confusion. You might find yourself questioning, “Is what I enjoy truly considered a hobby? Am I falling short in some way?”

In a world where stress and burnout are the norm rather than the exception, the idea of finding time to indulge in various hobbies can feel like an unreachable dream. Should we really burden ourselves with defining what constitutes a hobby? Maybe it’s time to revisit our understanding of this term. Here, we delve into whether it’s acceptable not to have hobbies and redefine our perspective.

What does “hobby” really mean? At its most basic, a hobby is any activity we find pleasure in during our free time. Thus, we should ask ourselves what activities we enjoy, rather than worrying about what can be termed a ‘hobby’. Notably, a hobby isn’t necessarily about achieving specific benchmarks or productivity. The spectrum of hobbies is broad, with some people regarding travel as a hobby, while others may not.

According to Sue Varma, an assistant clinical professor at NYU Langone Health, we ought to broaden our understanding of hobbies to encompass anything that brings us joy and purpose. It doesn’t need to turn into a side hustle or a measure of our industriousness. Similarly, New York psychotherapist Meg Gitlin emphasizes the value of activities that offer relaxation or pleasure during our downtime, even if they don’t fall into traditional hobby categories.

Whether your pastime involves watching your favorite TV show to unwind from the day or going for a leisurely stroll, it’s the element of regularity and enjoyment that counts. Gitlin reminds us to focus on how a particular interest or activity can enhance our daily life by helping us relax. In our increasingly demanding world, she rightly acknowledges that having traditional hobbies can feel like a luxury.

The pressure surrounding hobbies arises from our comparative society that can sometimes make us feel our lives aren’t fulfilling enough. The prevalence of social media platforms has amplified this, with endless posts showcasing remarkable hobbies, from artistic endeavors to adventurous outdoor exploits. The ability to quickly name a hobby can seem like a badge of honor in this online arena.

However, it’s crucial to remember that what brings you joy and a sense of connection doesn’t need to align with others’ views of a hobby. The pressure we often feel stems from our innate desire to fit in and feel appreciated. Remember, identifying a hobby is a personal and relative experience, not a standard to meet.

To alleviate this pressure, take a moment to recognize and appreciate your self-care activities. Whether it’s watching a TV show, exploring new restaurants with friends, or simply taking peaceful walks alone, these are things you find enjoyment in, thus falling under the hobby category. Strive for balance between work and life, finding pleasure in the activities that appeal to you.

It’s not about the perceived value of a hobby, it’s about the personal satisfaction and happiness derived from an activity. Don’t shy away from trying new things or feel compelled to commit to one hobby. Remember, personal growth arises from exploring new activities, stretching your comfort zone, but never through force or guilt.

Whether you have a hobby or not isn’t what matters most. The key takeaway is to focus on what brings joy and balance to your life. Embrace your interests, however simple or complex they might be. After all, each of us is wonderfully unique, and so too are our sources of enjoyment.