Health

Would a hobby make you happier?

I recently became very strangely envious of a good friend of mine. She's taken up pottery, and now appears with a stunning new bowl or vase every time I see her. Her face just glows when she takes her recent creation out of her bag, and we all coo over her accomplishment.

Woman painting in a garden

Masterfile

I recently became very strangely envious of a good friend of mine. She’s taken up pottery, and now appears with a stunning new bowl or vase every time I see her. Her face just glows when she takes her recent creation out of her bag, and we all coo over her accomplishment. I can see how much satisfaction she gets out of both learning something new and making something tangible. And it’s made me think about my lack of hobbies, new skills, or time focused on me.

Studies have shown that hobbies can make you happier, and it makes sense: it’s focused leisure time that gives you the chance to really improve at something. When you’re sitting at a pottery wheel, you get a sense of how far your technique has come, and when you’re mastering the art of cupcakes, you can revel in how much better you’ve gotten at sculpting marzipan. When I was younger, I had lots of hobbies. For almost six years, I played soccer — until I realized that playing wasn’t essential to gaining access to orange slices. In university, I played broom ball and volunteered for a women’s centre. And more recently, I played weekly badminton in the park with my friends. In short, I used to actually do things.

And now I do…nothing. Not nothing, of course. But after investing time in my work, my boyfriend, seeing friends and family whenever possible, trying to cook at home, and making sure my tiny dog has been walked, there seems to be little time or energy left over for other enterprises. I came across a French cahier last week, and it reminded me of how I wanted to learn French six years ago. I still don’t speak French. I have been dying to make something — other than chocolate chip cookies — for years, but I still haven’t come up with a good project.

I know that it’s impossible to have everything and to have work, love, friends, family and small dog fall roughly into place is a tremendous luxury. But having recently made the transition into my mid-thirties, I wonder, and sometimes worry, about letting certain things slip away. For example, conversations about new music go straight over my head and I only seem to visit museums when I’m on vacation.

Working hard, loving hard and trying to get enough sleep are all good ways to occupy your time. But it’s also important to keep asking questions and learning something new. I still haven’t figured out what, exactly, I want to do hobby-wise, but I’m going to try making risotto for the first time this weekend.

Being content is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t lull you into complacency.

Do you have a hobby that makes you feel great about yourself?