Enjoy a hobby for your health and happiness

Many people engage in non-vocational activities that render them pleasure, satisfaction, kudos and unique distinction from an early age. Others, feel rejuvenated, relaxed, pleased and invigorated by exercising their newly discovered satisfying talents later in life. How can we select and pursue the rewards of engaging in activities that support and elevate our health and wellbeing at any age?

Some people exhibit a specific talent and proclivity to engage in non-required learning, playing, reading, athletic activities, social leadership, academic or any other endeavor they enjoy, excel in and be appreciated for by their parents, coaches and/or teachers. Such activities lead to satisfying feelings of mastery and specialness.

Researchers SL Hutchinson and G. Nimrod found that “The psychological benefits of engaging in leisure and creative activities have been found to be a resource for successful aging by older adults with chronic health conditions. Specifically, the benefits of incorporating information and skill-building helps older adults recognize that leisure can be a resource for healthy aging and self-management of their chronic health conditions.”

Psychologically, being valued for a skill, talent or creativity is a deeply affirming experience at any age. Though the intended outcome of engaging in a hobby is the joy of creativity and self-expression, the social affirmations are additional bonuses that underscore one’s talent, value and distinctiveness.

Many people halt their exploration of their natural creative inclinations by telling themselves that they may not be sufficiently talented, have not had the proper training and preparation or fear being judged, criticized or not well received. These negative self-talk messages are blocks that should NOT be encouraged.

Many people who became well renowned for their creativity and talents were not “discovered” at a young age. For example, Andrea Bocelli was told by experts that at age 37 it was too late to become a successful singer. Phyllis Diller was similarly told at age 37 by many club owners that she was “too old” to become a success. Julia Child did not become a cook until she was almost 40 and didn’t launch her show until age 50. John Greenleaf Whittier summed it up beautifully, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”

Enjoy your hobbies:

-Venture into any chosen hobby, interest or activity that is your calling. It will immensely enrich your life.

– Abstain from restricting your talents in any field due to age, any perceived hindrances or others’ discouragements.

– Trust your inner guide to follow a path that utilizes your hopes, dreams, goals and innate talents and interests.

– Cultivate one or more of your hobbies. They are your calling and your chance for self-enhancement, joy and long-term health.

– Know that the richest people in the world are those who enjoy what they do and do what they enjoy!

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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