What are hobbies?
Hobbies are activities that individuals like to do to feel better or because they only like to be engaged in the activity. Some people collect stamps, some collect coins, others play tennis and so on. Whatever the hobby one is practicing, there are always psychological and social rewards that will be achieved by the individual as a result of practicing the hobby.
Hobbies are not competitions. If a person plays tennis as a professional, he is not practically into a hobby, but rather, into a profession. On the other hand, a person who plays for fun, for spending time, for sharing time with others, or for any reason other than making money or material gain, this person is practicing his hobby.
Virtually, all people have hobbies. Some hobbies, as the ones mentioned earlier are very well known. Others, however, may be irregular. For example, some people like to collect the wings of butterflies, whereas others may like to collect old shoes. There is always a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction behind the practicing of a hobby. The hobbyist feels rewarded as he sees his collection of things or his scores, or the positive consequences of his hobby increasing and growing everyday.
Psychologically, practicing a hobby can be nurturing for many reasons. First of all, it gives the individual the ability to spend time doing what he really likes. Spending such time in the manner that a hobbyist does is very healthy especially that it enables one to feel relieved and to have interest in things and life.
Secondly, when practicing a hobby, competition and tension are the last things that the hobbyist has on mind. Although the tension and competitiveness are gone, the hobbyist is very motivated towards doing his work and accomplishing it.
It is also important to mention that a hobby is usually mentally stimulating, even if it does not require a lot of thinking. A game of chess and the collection of stamps are both stimulating because they make the individual use his artistic, mental, and creative abilities to make the hobby better and refined.
Hobbies that require artistic abilities and solitude are an important source for the enjoyment of privacy. A person whose hobby is to build or fix or install something will be left on his own where he explores his own world of things and practices, not bothered by others who will not exist in this world. Yet, the majority of hobbies do not have this solitude nature, and rather, they are shared by more than one person. Even stamp collectors know very well that their satisfaction will only increase and be achieved when they show their stamps to someone else who can appreciate them and the effort that was put in the collection.
Hobbies can be very socially rewarding. When a person has a certain hobby, he will most likely need to share it or its consequences with someone else. For example, amateurs who collect things like to show their things to others who are interested. They also gather, talk about their hobbies, the difficulties they are facing and about the ways through which they can resolve these difficulties. Hobbyists also develop a sense of belonging, mainly through the shared interest that they have in the hobby, as well as in the recognition that they give to each other.
Some hobbyists are very socially aware of themselves. They organize themselves into small communities such as clubs. Bowlers, billiard players, football players, and many others have organized hobby centers and clubs where they have share their views, ideas, feelings and fun. These gatherings are all socially rewarding. They make the individual feel that he belongs to some culture, to some group, or to some people. Hobbies bring people together because they make them share certain interests. These interests may be very small and insignificant, but for the hobbyist, they are strong enough to bring one person into social contact with others.
In the practicing of some hobbies, the hobbyists may have to work as a team. This is the case as in tennis games, football games and other organized activities. Being a member of a team is socially rewarding because it gives the individual a sense of self-worth, recognition and esteem. This is also an outlet from the tension and pressure of the workplace.
Although hobbies are not supposed to be competitive, the majority of them actually involve some competitiveness. For example, the game of pool or billiards is a very competitive game. As a hobby, people practice it because it enables them to relieve themselves from tension, because it makes them feel better when they score, and because it gives them the opportunity to share and socialize with others. However, a billiards game is always competitive, but a hobbyist knows that whether he wins or he loses, the same satisfaction is guaranteed, because the idea is not about winning or losing, but rather, about socializing with people and having fun.
Some hobbies are of course dangerous, and some are even destructive. And even those hobbies that may be harmless such as going clubbing, bowling or playing billiards may become a source of trouble in the life of the individual. This happens when the hobby becomes dominant such that the individual will be allocating more of his important resources such as time and money to the satisfaction of the hobby. In that case, the hobby becomes an illness and the hobbyist becomes a person who needs help. However, a hobbyist who really appreciates his hobby and its importance is a person who knows very well how to manage the demands of his hobby and how to maintain the benefits rather than the disadvantages of this hobby.
A hobby, whatever it is, remains an important part of life. A hobby is not merely leisure or fun. It is a satisfying habit or practice that gives the individual more worth, the opportunity to feel good, and the happiness of being with other people with whom one shares common things. Hobbies are psychologically and socially beneficial.
Armstrong, Herbert & McCray, Robina. (1996). Life Management. New York:
Dubrin, Andrew J. (1997). Applying Psychology: Individual & Organizational
Effectiveness. New Jersey: Prentice Hall International Editions, Inc.