What Exactly is a Hobby? (How is it Defined?)

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A hobby is an activity you do for fun during your leisure time, for relaxation and pleasure, not professionally or for pay. The word hobby originated from the 13th Century Anglo-Latin word 'hobyn,' which means 'small and active horse or pony.'

This word evolved into 'hobbyhorse,' which was a wooden stick with a figure of a horse's head made for children to pretend to ride.

This explains why hobbies were initially considered as childhood activities. In the 1800s, several English people started to use the word 'hobby,' and later became associated with leisure or pastime.

By the 20th century, hobbies were described as pleasurable activities. Besides, they gave a sense of fulfillment like woodwork, knitting, and stamp collecting. Activities like watching TV and listening to music were not typical hobbies because there was no value achievement.

Hobbies have evolved in the 21st century to include several enjoyable pursuits that don't necessarily have a tangible value like video games. Some hobbies have almost disappeared, for instance, stamp collecting.

There's no limit to what people can learn to do for pleasure and fulfillment with internet availability.

Why You Need a Hobby

A hobby is a worthwhile way to spend your leisure time and wind down after a long day or week at work or school. Depending on your interests, you can participate in general indoor or outdoor hobbies, educational hobbies, competitive hobbies, collection hobbies, or observation hobbies.

Many people are stressed, always exhausted, have low energy, and are less productive because they don't spend enough time relaxing and enjoying fun activities.

Engaging in an enjoyable activity will improve your mental health. More than ever before, professionals refer their depressed patients to non-medical support, which is described as 'social prescribing'. This method mainly encourages patients to take up new hobbies.

An investigative study with data from over 8000 adults over 50 years old found that having a leisure pursuit reduced the chances of experiencing depression later in life by 30%.

For adults with depression but no hobbies, engaging in one drastically improved depressive symptoms and gave them a high chance of full recovery.

Builds Your Confidence

Learning something new and getting better at it over time is a rewarding experience. A new hobby will challenge you, mentally or physically. Let's say you've taken up mountain climbing.

At first, you'll only be able to walk a certain distance, but as you keep doing it, you'll go further and further. Overcoming challenges related to your hobby will give you a confidence boost.

Make You Innovative

Having a hobby will trigger your mind to create innovative ideas. While engaging in your hobby, you might meet an obstacle and develop a new perspective on how to go about it.

This flows into your work, where you'll be stimulated to find creative ideas to solve work problems. If it's a hobby that involves interaction, you may be able to confide in someone who will give you a new perspective.

Become More Social

Some hobbies, like sports and travel, allow you to meet similar-minded people. For other hobbies, you can get involved in group associations and meet-ups to make new friends and increase your social circle.

Such social pursuits improve your relationships and build your communication skills and networks.

Reduce Stress

Hobbies are generally engaging activities, physically and mentally. You'll be so engrossed in your interest that you won't have time to think about work stress or personal problems.

Physically engaging hobbies release 'feel-good' hormones that leave you feeling positive and less stressed. Getting away from work stress and engaging in a fun hobby will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Skill Building

Having a hobby can help you develop several new skills, most of which are essential for interaction with other people in life and success on your job.

Some employers insist on only hiring people with specific skills, so taking up a hobby might just lead you to your dream job.

Some of these skills include critical thinking, teamwork, work ethic, communication, decision making, conflict resolution, etc. A few hobbies will also teach you some vital technical skills.

How to Select a Hobby

It's never too late to find a new hobby, but it might be a little overwhelming with the endless options. Here's what to consider when selecting a new pastime activity:

Think Back to Your Childhood

There's a high chance that what you loved doing as a child is still a passion that you've locked up over the years because of work and life in general.

Maybe you loved drawing, painting, riding your bike, or making little dresses for your dolls.

You can jumpstart these hobbies as an adult. If you liked climbing that big old oak tree, you might want to consider mountain climbing instead.

Challenging

Your new hobby should provide some kind of challenge. If it's too easy to do, it will get boring, and you'll quit it. An activity that challenges you helps you grow, learn, and become more confident.

On the other hand, it should not be overwhelmingly challenging; otherwise, it won't be fun.

Social Butterfly Vs. Lone Ranger

Are you an extrovert that gets excited by spending time with people? Or do you prefer to go solo on your fun adventures? Determine what works best for you, depending on your personality or circumstances.

When you feel like retreating from social activity, there's always something to do on your own and vice versa.

Your Strengths

For a start, it will be easier to focus on a hobby with a short learning curve that won't require much effort. Before choosing a hobby, think about your natural ability for it, fitness level, knowledge, and passion.

If you're physically fit, pursuits like mountain climbing might not be difficult for you. However, stay away from bungee jumping if you're scared of heights.

Final Word

Some enjoyable activities you can do for fun include baking, knitting, journaling, biking, camping, soccer, hunting, painting, art collecting, dominoes, meditation, birdwatching, and thousands more.

The whole point of having a hobby is to do something enjoyable and fun. It's like an escape away from other pressures of life.