Life can feel so full. Too full? Perhaps at times. And with so many demands on our time, it's easy to get carried along by the inertia and feel like time is passing by with little or nothing to show for it. It's no surprise that without direction, we retreat into what's comfortable and zone out a bit. But that results in a sort of listless guilt, doesn't it? You know that hazy feeling one gets after binging a show or realizing that the bulk of an afternoon was just spent playing video games? It's a remorseful feeling that you could (or should) be doing something else. Something ... meaningful?
It's not that relaxation and checking out for a bit doesn't have its benefits. But sometimes it happens more than we care to admit and becomes a habit that we didn't intend to cultivate. The best way to combat that listless guilt is to find something to care about—the act of giving a shit will suddenly bring a whole new perspective to your life.
And when I say “find something to care about”, I'm not talking about doing something half-ass or simply trying something new for social media fodder. This isn't about finding something you can turn into a side hustle. This is merely to have something that's just yours—an idea or an activity that brings you joy and truly interests you. Call it a hobby or refer to it as your off-duty life assignment. But really dig in and let that be something you challenge yourself to learn more about.
Think about what really gets your juices flowing. Something that if you saw a big coffee table book about, you'd immediately pick it up and dive in. Maybe it's plants or woodworking, maybe it's fragrance (from incense to essential oils), it could be cooking or home bartending, perhaps it's learning an instrument or a new language—you get the point, right? Just start and discover the fulfillment that comes with learning, trying and developing a new interest and skill. Hands-on experience is a powerful way to discover what matters to you.
One of the most surprising developments? You'll suddenly discover you actually have more 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 your new passion will essentially encourage efficiency.
There will be some struggles, along with some successes. It might lead to meeting new people or attending events about your newfound discovery. Maybe it leads to taking a class or trying out a workshop or maybe you'll just tinker by yourself at home. There's no right or wrong way to do it. But it will no doubt give you something to talk about when someone asks, “What have you been up to” or “What are you into lately”? One thing is for sure, not caring about things doesn't make you cool or mysterious. It makes you more boring. Indifference leads to feeling bored and boredom leads to negativity and who the hell wants to live like that?
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.