I was reading something once, years ago, I *think* written in a book by Leslie Edgerton (“Your Clients and You”) about the folks in my trade (cosmetology) being the hardest partiers on the trade show circuit. I don’t doubt this for an instant, having been in the industry now for 18 years. We have a lot of crapulence to let go of at the end of the day. In this regard we are no different then other creative fields like film and music.
Personally, I crochet. My mother taught me how to knit and crochet when I was a child. I picked it up again as an adult when I needed a way to pass the long winters in Manitoba. When I sit down with my hooks and yarn and start designing something, I am focused like a laser beam for hours. Ideas flow and I can let go mentally and physically. In my case it has started turning into a second career over the years because I now sell my designs.
When we focus on something that is relaxing and interesting to us, we enter what is known as an alpha brain wave state. This is the state that people enter into when they meditate and/or exercise. Not only does this help us to be less irritating to those around us by way of destressing, this deep focus on something not related to work helps to create new neural pathways. (You will get sick of hearing me talk about your brain, but I do not care.) These information highways in our brain allow us to see things differently and ultimately will provide us with a different way of thinking in all areas of our lives.
Focused minds also think more creatively because the alpha brain wave state allows inspiration in. We have access to levels of intuition closed off to us during less mindful, scattered moments. Although we are a society that is focused on multitasking, unitasking – focusing on ONE THING ONLY – is much healthier. Multitasking may be socially acceptable and desired in the workplace but it is unhealthy and contributes to the disconnect that many of us feel.
Having a hobby also gives you something interesting to talk about. The more you do, the more interesting you become. Interesting people are attractive people. They are folks whose energy is buzzing because they are experiencing things, not sitting on their asses in front of a television set or laptop wasting their life watching other people live. When you have things to do, you change and grow as an individual. If you are currently stagnating professionally, try taking a cooking class or painting class, or join a sports team – but do something away from work. See how you are in a few weeks. You probably won’t hate your place in the universe like you did when you weren’t doing anything for yourself.
Doing something in your spare time also gets you out there meeting new people. Whether it’s strangers in the yarn aisle at Michael’s, or new team mates in the beer league hockey team, you are interacting with people in a different way. We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work and while we may be the professionals with all the knowledge and talent, ultimately we are there to serve the public and make people happy. After a while this can wear on you. Nobody wants to be servile all the time, especially during stressful times of the year in one’s industry. It’s nice to be able to make yourself happy and enjoy new accomplishments in an environment where you have more control over your level of interaction than you do at work. You may have to make nice with a client who is a colossal asshole because their appointment pays your bills, but you don’t have to be nice to the prissy bitch in the book club. In fact, you don’t have to talk to her at all. You can surround yourself with people that you want to be around or you can even be by yourself.
Having a hobby can also open up doors to new opportunities. This year I am submitting several of my Tunisian crochet designs to magazines. I don’t know if they’ll be accepted but my work has been well received in the TC community for a few years now so I have my fingers crossed. In fact, a lot of the current wave of knit and crochet designers are not professionally trained designers at all – they’re people just like me who enjoyed something and turned it into a second or third career, or side gig. You see this in other crafting fields like scrapbooking, candlemaking, art journaling, and soapmaking, too. I wouldn’t take up a hobby specifically to make money because then it will feel just like…..ugh…..work…..but when it’s enjoyable AND you can pay the bills – well that’s a whole new ball game, now isn’t it?
Ultimately, having a hobby is just plain FUN. It is awesome to feel like a little kid again, holding up your crooked scarf or sort-of-puffy pastries that you made, all by yourself, to show off to your friends and family. Everyone needs to have fun just for its own sake 🙂