A couple of years ago, I got really interested in pu’er tea—a kind of fermented tea produced in China—which can sell for thousands of dollars. I tried some, liked it, read about its history, and then… My mind started racing: why is it so hard to buy pu’er tea in Europe? Maybe I could import it and create an online shop?
I was trying so hard to pin the butterfly. Sometimes, ideas and passions are best left alone, given enough space to expand, travel, and connect with other ideas and passions. But our worship of entrepreneurship has made us run after viable businesses, profitable ventures—the kind of activities where time spent translates into money earned.
While most people are aware hobbies tend to make us happier, they are also scientifically proven to make us healthier. For instance, researchers found that hobbies are associated with lower blood pressure and a lower body mass index. The impact is so important, hobbies are considered part of the psychosocial predictors of survival for patients who went through breast cancer surgery. In another study, having a hobby was associated with better heart functions. Hobbies seem to help us live a calmer life, which reflects on the body.
Especially for people in high-pressure, demanding jobs, hobbies can sometimes feel like a necessity. “Something I’ve learned, actually from a collection of Earnest Hemingway quotes about writing, is the importance of disconnecting from the current task and entire thought patterns around building a business. Hobbies do that for me. They occupy my attention and keep me from endlessly working on a business problem, at least consciously” explains Tyler Tringas, founder of Earnest Capital.
Hobbies are also a way to shape our identity. Dr Patricia Linville from the psychology department at Duke University found that the narrower our vision of self, the more prone we are to depression and anxiety. She calls this concept “self-complexity”—our perceived knowledge of ourselves, based on the number of distinct aspects we believe we possess. Goals, relationships, and activities are all part of a network forming our sense of self.