What are your hobbies? If you say “watching sports on television,” I’ve got news for you. That’s not a hobby. It’s a habit, and a bad one at that. A hobby is, or should be, something that makes your life richer.
The kind of hobby Winston Churchill was recommending is one that might:
* stimulate your imagination
* satisfy your curiosity
* give you a sense of peace
* sharpen your senses
* broaden your knowledge
Maybe even stave off senility. By this, more demanding, definition, reading could be a hobby or it could merely be a habit. The difference would be in what you chose to read. If the purpose of your reading is amusement and the result is nothing but amusement, then what you are doing is better, but not much better, than watching television. I’m not opposed to mindless amusement, but, like junk food, it must be consumed in small quantities on a very occasional basis. If you do more than that, you will get fat.
Having two or three challenging and/or stimulating hobbies will make your life infinitely better. It will give you ways to soothe your agita and make rainy days something to look forward to. It will fill up your spare moments. It will keep you feeling young and alive. And it will keep you from getting lonely. People who pursue interesting hobbies are themselves more interesting. They tend to have broad and active intellects, spirited hearts, and youthful souls.
Spend some time today figuring out how much time you waste every week watching television, reading mindless books, or fiddling around with some other junk activity. Then promise yourself that you’ll devote at least half that time to the pursuit of hobbies that will improve you.
Here are some hobbies I can recommend from personal experience:
1. writing and/or reading poetry
2. creating and/or studying art
3. studying and practicing a foreign language
4. keeping a journal
5. learning to enjoy wine and/or food
6. collecting something you love
8. writing your family history
9. making movies and/or writing screenplays
10. learning to dance and dancing
11. designing and tending gardens
Churchill recommended two or three, and that is probably enough. I have more than a dozen hobbies. That may seem like too many, but, since I don’t feel compelled to devote any minimum amount of time to any of them, it doesn’t seem excessive to me. I tend to focus on a smallish group of them at a time — and when I get “enough” of them, I stop for a while.
Last year, I faithfully kept a journal, sketched, wrote a screenplay, studied wine and art history, and learned some Spanish. Now and then, I’d write a poem or take some artsy photos. I did that when it felt like fun. This year, I think I’ll do more fiction writing and get back to dancing. What are you going to do? Make a promise. Allocate the time.
IT’S GOOD TO KNOW: WHY JOB INTERVIEWERS ASK ABOUT YOUR HOBBIES
Two questions commonly asked by job interviewers are “What are your hobbies?” and “Do you play any sports?” There’s a reason for that. According to an article that appeared a while ago in USA Today, the interviewer is not simply curious as to whether you have a life — he may be looking for evidence that you have job-related skills outside of your professional experience.
If, for example, you play chess or bridge, that shows you have analytical skills. Reading, music, and painting demonstrate your creativity. Individual sports show that you have determination and stamina. And participation in group sports indicates that you are comfortable working as part of a team.
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]