When I was running my business, I didn’t have much time to pursue any hobbies or interests on a consistent basis. Much of my time was spent on the business, since there was always something that could be worked on. My work consumed me, and I justified it because I was improving my career, and besides, it was better to spend time on my work than on idle and negative activities. It was only after the business got acquired that I actually felt that I needed more purpose in my life. So I went to look around for a hobby.
There were so many things that I could try, but I remember trying out snowboarding when I was much younger, and being horrible at it. I was falling and stumbling all the way down the mountain. But I didn’t take any lessons then, and I thought I should try it again, this time with proper snowboarding lessons.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I made, because I eventually fell in love with the sport.
Why Having Hobbies Is Important
The important thing that it taught me was that your identity needs to be multi-faceted or multi-layered so that you can develop more holistically. My work used to be my hobby, but it wasn’t healthy because it meant that work was my entire life. It was only recently that I discovered how important having real hobbies were. Snowboarding became my hobby, and I learnt 5 crucial reasons for having a hobby.
1. Experiencing Flow
Flow is essentially being in the zone. You know you’re in a state of flow when your mind is clear and stress disappears. For the moment, distractions, and responsibilities fall away, almost as though you’re meditating. Time passes imperceptibly. I go through hours of snowboarding without realising it.
Experiencing flow is important because it is here that your mind gets a reset. Not coincidentally, this is also typically when new ideas and solutions suddenly come to mind. This is because the mind is suddenly free of its daily tasks, and left to its own devices, it can start exploring new possibilities. Some of us can even experience this state of flow when we do more mundane things that allow us to disconnect, such as showering or taking a walk.
No matter what activity it is, as long as it’s a positive activity that promotes activity and challenge, you can find that state of flow. Flow is a state of mind that’s elusive, but rewarding and satisfying when you achieve it. I regularly experience flow when I snowboard, and the sense of satisfaction is incredible.
2. Finding Awe
Remember when you were a kid, and everything was amazing because everything was new to you? That was a sense of awe. It evokes feelings of wonder and amazement in us, and works to expand our world view. Recent research has shown that it’s not just a pleasurable feeling, but also helps us have stronger social bonds, improve our health, and boost our well-being.
Snowboarding is a sport that takes me to mountains every time, and the views on top of every mountain never ceases to fill me with awe. In fact, one of the primary triggers of awe is a sense of vastness. Not necessarily in terms of space, but in terms of anything letting you feel that it is much larger than yourself.
A hobby exposes your to these moments of awe more often. It could be something as simple as appreciating good craftsmanship, the ingenuity of a move in chess or a sport, a new flower growing in your neighbourhood park, or even the re-discovery of an old spot down your street. Seeing beauty, even in the ordinary, is done best by leaving your comfort zone in whatever you do.
3. Increasing Confidence
I remember when I first started learning snowboarding. Like learning any new skill, such as swimming, rollerblading, or cycling, it is difficult to pick up because your mind and muscles aren’t familiar with the skill yet.
As with any new snowboarder, you’ll find yourself falling and stumbling more often than not. However, once you put in practice, you’ll experience a point in time when the skills “click” and you’ll suddenly be able to snowboard smoothly for a much longer period of time.
That point of time when you start becoming comfortable is a point of time when you get a huge confidence boost. What was incredibly difficult and seemingly impossible to learn, became a skill that you internalised. That is an accomplishment that you can be proud of.
In my hobby, my journey didn’t end when I could be comfortable with the basics of snowboarding. I wanted to learn more tricks and handle increasingly difficult terrain. And this is typical of any hobby that challenges you. The overcoming of challenges is the best way to increase your confidence in yourself and in your ability to learn and overcome.
When you have a hobby, you get to mix and bond with strangers who also share the same hobby. You can choose to be as sociable when you meet these strangers, or as withdrawn as you would like, depending on how comfortable you are. When I go snowboarding, I can be chatty and talk to strangers, or I can be withdrawn, depending on how I feel at the moment. The beauty is that all that is now open and available to you when you have a hobby.
A bond also forms with your friends, especially those who share the same hobby. I found myself having more in common with more of my friends, with snowboarding as our common activity. I used to hang out with my friends over just drinks and food, but these days, I can organise snowboarding trips together with friends. It doesn’t just apply to friends who have the same hobby, but also other friends who are curious about the activity or interested in your life. It gives you stories to tell, and experiences to share.
5. Finding A Sense of Purpose
In the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that our lives have no predetermined purpose. We have to give meaning and purpose to our lives with what we feel is important to us. Work and my business were my sole purpose until one day, I decided that I needed to experience more of the world and of life. That was when I started looking for a hobby outside of my work. I found it in snowboarding, and it gives me such a great sense of purpose.
I now plan snowboarding trips, actively looking for ski resorts that are fun and new. It allows me to rope in friends to come along, or meet friends who are living near where I’m going. Besides enjoying just snowboarding down the slopes, I also look at drills and how I can practice so that I get better at the sport.
Snowboarding might be trivial and uninteresting to other people, but to me, it gives my life purpose. Having an activity that I can look forward to and get excited about has been a feeling that I’ve lost since I was a teenager, and I’m glad that I’ve found it again.
Find Your Hobbies
It doesn’t have to be snowboarding that you fall in love with. It can be any positive hobby. It can even be a more everyday activity such as reading, or gardening. The important thing is that it must be an activity that truly makes you passionate about, and you’re more than willing to spend hours upon hours to get lost in it. I remember there was a day trip that I took to snowboard at Lake Tahoe when I was in California’s Bay Area. The drive there and back took 7 hours, and my actual snowboarding time on the slopes was just a total of 3 hours. But still, it was worth it for me.