HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Ursillo says he found more compassion in himself than he would have if he tried to reach out on his own. When bouts of depression left Ursillo unable to leave the house, he found his only connection – and his way back to compassion for himself – through online interactions.


Compassion is something we can develop by opening up lines of communication and action. With this in mind, we can live a full and satisfied life every day, even to the last.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of friendships in today’s fast-paced environment. Taking time to think about your friends and being mindful of their lives and situations goes a long way toward maintaining high-quality relationships. People know if you’re being genuine when you talk to them and also they know if you’re partially tuned in to conversations. The message we send when we’re fractionally involved in relationships is: “I don’t care.


The idea of having “friends” has drastically changed in the past 20 years, largely due to social media. Many people with Facebook accounts know 5 percent or fewer of the friends they have listed. We interface other people much differently through the Internet. Because we are not face to face with them, we are not as subject to the accountability and meaningfulness of what we say. Emailing and texting can get logistical and emotional meanings to others in a very rote, non-invasive way. This has become the norm.


It takes energy to have an emotional exchange with someone. When you do it face to face, the content of the message reveals a great deal about you and there is no facade (or avatar) to hide behind. When people are near the end of their lives, what do the majority say they want? They want to regain lost friendships, build better relationships, restore their families and have a life lived more fully with friends.

REDEFINING FRIENDSHIP - SOCIAL MEDIA HAS CHANGED WHAT HAVING FRIENDS MEANS

When it’s down to the wire, what is left? Connections, love and compassion. Is the focus on social media friendships moving us away from these ultimate human needs?


The Pew Research Center created the Pew Internet and American Life Project to research and track the effects of the online environment on people’s daily lives and how people relate to each other. In Pew’s 2012 study, many indicators of increased bullying, sexting, minority slamming and heated arguments were found. This happened more among teens than adults, but it is showing a rise in both groups. The full report can be seen at www.pewinternet.org.


Conversely, many sites and chat rooms have helped bring people together in positive ways. For some, the doorway of social media helps them find the friendships and connections they need to socially thrive. Blogger Dave Ursillo recently wrote a piece called “Social Media’s Secret Truth: A Catalyst for Compassion.” In the blog post, he says, “Social media helped me tap into more of myself by remembering to tap into the hearts and minds of so many other beautiful people around the world.” By purposely being compassionate online,

CHARLES SEBASTIAN

Charles Sebastian is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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