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In the course of a discussion on work/life balance, I asked the group what their hobbies were. A young manager looked at me as if I had come down from outer space. “Hobbies?” he asked incredulously “ Hobbies? I left that at school.” His words seemed to say that I was living in some other world.

“This is good in theory” the young manager told me rather severely. “But where is the time for hobbies? We are so busy doing our work that we don’t have time for anything- repeat, anything –else”.

In this context, I shared with him, as I do with you now, a New York Times article by Eilene Zimmerman which says “ Hobbies Are Rich In Psychic Rewards”.

  • When people do things that make them feel good, like a hobby, it activates an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens that controls how we feel about life. According to Dr. S. Ausim Azizi, chairman of the department of neurology at Temple University’s School of Medicine in Philadelphia who studies brain activity and cell signaling, activities you enjoy also stimulate the brain’s septal zone — its “feel good” area — and that makes you feel happy.
  • Hobbies can enhance your creativity, help you think more clearly and sharpen your focus. Carol Kauffman of the Harvard Medical School says ” When you’re really engaged in a hobby you love, you lose your sense of time and enter what’s called a flow state, and that restores your mind and energy.” In a flow state, you are completely submerged in an experience, requiring a high level of concentration. Research shows strong correlations between flow states and peak performance, said Ms. Kauffman.

It appears that making time for enjoyable activities stimulates parts of the brain associated with creative and positive thinking. This makes us become emotionally and intellectually more motivated.

Hobbies also enhance self-esteem and self-confidence. Feeling that you are solely defined by your job — even if it is going well — can raise your chances of experiencing anxiety, depression and burnout, because you don’t have a perception of yourself outside of work, according to Michelle P. Maidenberg, a psychotherapist and business coach in New York, and clinical director of Westchester Group Works, a center for group therapy.

In answer to the million dollar question of “Where is the time to pursue a hobby?” experts say that if you start thinking of your hobby as something that helps you professionally as well as personally, you won’t feel so guilty about making time for it.

Here are reasons enough for you to take up a new hobby or even pursue a long lost hobby as I suggested to my friend, the young manager.

Hobbies help bring in a sense of fulfillment in your life apart from, of course, a balanced sense of proportion.

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This is the 104 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

 

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