Embrace Your Passions
At one time, it wasn't unusual for men—even the busiest, most ambitious and successful men—to have a well-established hobby. Something that piqued their curiosity and was deemed worthy of their free time and attention. Back then, your time off wasn't considered a pass to "veg out" or "crash." It was generally thought of as an opportunity to pursue interests outside of your 9-to-5 occupation. Engaging in these hobbies brought pleasure and relaxation. Because when you embrace your passions, you discover an outlet for the sides of you that aren't stimulated at your day job. It's not something you "have to do," but rather something you "want to do" because you love to do it. As a result, a hobby can take many forms, be it woodworking, cooking, model-building or home-brewing beer.
Of course, these days, a lot of men don't have any hobbies. Unfortunately, many of us now spend our leisure time zoning out in front of a screen. The time passes faster than we realize as we stare at the TV, computer or the phone in our hand. Life and work has us pulled in so many different directions and it's so stressful, that when we have free time, camping out on the couch is all we feel like we can manage. The term "I'm too busy" has become something of a badge of honor—a marker of virtue and importance. But you're actually a better man if you've got a hobby. And here's why.
Life Suddenly Improves
Hobbies offer an opportunity to take a break—but a break with a purpose. And just like that, you're a more interesting and engaging person. Hobbies add layers to your identity and richness to your self-concept. Plus, research has shown (PDF) that people who have hobbies are generally healthier, with lower blood pressure, lower total cortisol (the stress hormone) and a lower risk of depression.
You Mysteriously Gain Time
According to Parkinson's law, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Put more simply, things take as much time as you have. So, when the evening stretches out before you, unscheduled, you can easily find yourself researching a work project or answering emails late into the evening. But chances are, if you had a project waiting at home or a book club meeting that night, you could finish those tasks much more quickly. So, hobbies can seem to create more time by encouraging efficiency.
New Social Connections are Made
While some hobbies are obviously more solitary endeavors, many hobbyists find themselves meeting people (either out in their communities or online) they otherwise wouldn't. Multiple studies have found that social connection is a key component of happiness and a meaningful life, and your hobby can easily help you establish ties with like-minded people.
There's a Healthy Outlet for Stress
By focusing on a non-work-related task, you're giving your mind something else to focus on. It's a positive mental challenge. When you get into the flow of your hobby related work, you declutter your mind and all of your worries and stresses seem to fade away. Plus, when you're doing something you love—something you don't have to do but really enjoy doing—any stress-related negativity is replaced with excitement and contentment.
Volume 9 // 2017
When we started our 31 Days series, way back in 2009, it was an idea that began out of the natural tendency to see the new year as a restart of sorts. Each day, we put up a short tip or trick to help readers get a fresh start to the new year and step up their game. Then we did it again the next year and it's grown every year since, proving to be one of Valet.'s most popular series ever. This year, nearly a decade in, we've shifted the focus just a touch—narrowing in on skills and attributes we believe make you a better man. Little things that have a big, lasting impact on your life and the lives of those around you. Everyday this month, we'll introduce a topic or idea aimed at helping you look your best, feel great and be the civilized 21st century gentleman we all strive to be. Best of luck in 2017 and thanks for reading.