How Having a Hobby Is One of the Secrets to a Successful Life
Walking down the stairs of an empty strip mall hallway on a cold and snowy New Jersey night, I approach a door at the far end. The sign says the name of my new belly dance school. The rhythmic sounds of tribal dance music are pulsing through the walls, and I’m nervous and excited at the same time.
As I am moving through the warm up and choreography with five other women, I know, this was what was missing in life! The beats and the community of other women trying something new…not getting a step at first…and then getting it! Trying again. Moving. Learning. Trying again. The class is over and we all proudly walk over to put our shoes back on. A tiny fire of confidence and achievement lights up in my heart.
About five years ago, my boys were three and eight years old. As the baby days were mostly behind me, I began to dive into my own journey of self-love and awareness. During this time, I experienced a very clear memory during a deep meditation. An image of me…dancing. I interpreted this as a message that it was time to reconnect with this childhood hobby. From the age of seven to eleven, I was in performances and competitions. Dance brought a sense of identity, inspiration, confidence and creativity to my life. As I got older and realized I was not going to be hired as a “Fly Girl”, life got busier and the dancing stopped. Now my heart was calling for it again, but I wondered: what are the real benefits of a hobby?
Turns out there are many benefits. You might be surprised to learn that a large portion of highly successful people report being committed to a hobby outside of their work. You might have heard about Meryl Streep’s knitting or Mike Tyson’s pigeon-racing. There are many benefits of keeping a hobby in your life, to create a successful experience on your mind, body and soul journey.
There’s a great body of research that shows the way you spend your leisure time matters to your health and overall well-being. In a 2010 study of over 1,000 people in the UK, results showed that hobbies help to lower stress levels, activate more creative sections of the brain and inspire better problem-solving. People who participate in hobbies report a greater life satisfaction and felt their lives had a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
Another health benefit is having the space for a mental life-break. Making time for yourself is extremely beneficial for mind and body. This time is completely for you. The rest of your time might be spent in service of a job or a family. In a culture where most of our schedules are overbooked, it’s the highest act of self-love to take some of that time back.
A Welcome (and Productive) Distraction
Distraction from the day-to-day stresses, worries about the state of the world, kids, health issues, career, or whatever the mind is fixated on for that day is actually good for you. A hobby is not a way to hide or be in denial about these issues. Instead, a hobby gives you a chance to put everything on hold for a little while, and give your mind a break from your usual worries. Meditation is often recommended, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. On the other hand, getting yourself to an appointment for an engaging, exciting hobby is a good cure for an ‘over-thinking’ or ‘over-worrying’ mind.
Build Confidence and Community
The experience of becoming a student again and learning a new (or old) skill proves subconsciously to our self-esteem that we can do new things. When we challenge ourselves to stretch just a bit out of our comfort zone it can teach you to feel safer taking healthy risks. You are practicing to trust your abilities.
Building new friendships also promotes confidence. If your hobby is maple-tree-tapping, odds are you will connect with a very like-minded community if they share this very specific hobby. The friendships built around a hobby are rewarding and a natural bonus. Some of my life-long friends have been made on yoga retreats!
Making Space for a Hobby
When we were kids, most of us had hobbies. Drama, school clubs, sports, stamp collections, reading and more! As kids we’d be open to trying new things and jumping in with a group of strangers to learn or practice an activity. And unless we were “Olympic hopefuls,” we didn’t put any expectations on what the hobby would do for us. We just did it.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we stopped prioritizing hobbies. We stopped seeking out ways to expand our life. If it wasn’t connected to our careers or parenting, we just didn’t pursue it. If we weren’t being productive it was not worthy of our time. At the core we might even feel silly about becoming a student or beginner again. Now that we know a few of the key benefits to embracing a life with a hobby, where to begin?
“But I don’t have time for a hobby?” Actually, you do. The number one reason people don’t commit to a new hobby is the worry that there’s not enough time.
How have we completely lost our free time? Where has it gone? Busyness is certainly something more of recent generations. Some of us seem to choose to put more attention on tasks and to-do lists than to a hobby. Me included!
The first step here is to keep a record or skim through your digital calendar to see what is filling your time each week. You might be surprised to see what you are doing in your free time. Phone scrolling, Netflix binges, trying to keep up with never-ending house chores could all be deposited into the hobby time bank.
Now you really don’t want to make this another chore or task . Selecting your next hobby should be a very exciting and motivating addition to the calendar. This is about bringing more joy into life. Hobbies can bring meaning and fulfillment into the weekly schedule, and help to break up the dead-end routine.
Now I have a weekly ‘me-time’ appointment. When I see the little “Belly Dance” calendar reminder that pops up on my phone 2 hours before class, I give thanks to myself for this little piece of self-care I’ve added to the week.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Rachel Rema is a Holistic Life Coach and Reiki practitioner. She partners with modern moms feeling lost on how to cope with overwhelm and stress during motherhood and life transitions. Rachel facilitates a journey towards reclaiming your unique power and revealing your best and most authentic life.
A Florida native now living in New Jersey, USA, Rachel experienced her own intense set of life transitions after leaving a career in advertising and voiceovers in New York City, to being an at-home Mom managing international moves around the world and a set of chronic health conditions.
Rachel experienced transformative and life-changing results by working with coaches, mentors and mindfulness teachers. These experiences shone a light on her natural intuitive gifts of guidance. She immersed herself into an intensive ICF-accredited life coaching program and additionally received her ACC life coach accreditation.
Today Rachel offers private 1-to-1 coaching programs, Reiki services, Destination Women Retreats and workshops on topics such as ‘Mastering Vision Boards’ and ‘Breathing Techniques for Moments of Overwhelm’. For more info on her offerings you can find her on Instagram @RachelRemaLiving or at www.RachelRema.com
Ready to grow