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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Challenge: Expanding your understanding of social, political or religious issues by attending a series of lectures strengthens your ability to chal- lenge yourself beyond an already existing belief.


Control: The intrinsically motivated learner controls the learning process in her life and seeks new ideas and perspectives just for the enjoyment and satisfaction of self-actualizing her whole person.


Having a hobby you really like brings joy and enriches your life. Hobbies give us something fun to do during our leisure time and affords us the opportunity to learn new skills. There are entire Web sites devoted to hobbies and interests. A Web search is bound to uncover one that suits you. Consider becoming an intrinsically motivated learner and find the per- fect hobby that opens for you the experiences of curiosity, challenge and control in living well whatever your age.


SOURCES AND RESOURCES


WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

external reward, but the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself. In work settings, for instance, productivity can be increased by using extrinsic rewards such as bonuses. However, the actual quality of the work performed is influenced by intrinsic factors. If someone does something he finds rewarding, interesting and challenging, he is more likely to relax and open his mind to come up with novel ideas and more creative solutions.


In psychology, intrinsic motivation distinguishes between the internal and external rewards in life. Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn and actualize our potentials. Some examples include planting a garden, painting a picture, playing a game, writing a story or reading a book. The psychological factors behind intrinsic motivation include the three Cs: Curiosity, Challenge and Control.


Curiosity: Intrinsic motivation increases when something in the physical environment grabs the individual’s attention through sensory curios- ity, such as smelling a bouquet of flowers, viewing an elegant portrait or reading an intriguing article, editorial or book.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller

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. When you get that urge to withdraw or hide from the realities of daily life, don’t. Instead, find a hobby to zone in on, something that gives you time to refocus and collect your thoughts – and maybe some tangible items, such as teapots, clocks, snow globes, etc.


Focusing on a hobby can induce a relaxing, meditative state. When I am working on a manuscript, my desk is near one of my hobbies — a model train layout. If I get stuck trying to figure out where I want to take the reader in my story or article, I shift to working on the miniature world of my model trains. Allowing myself to enter another realm takes me away from the more difficult challenge of the moment. By making that shift and focusing on the hobby I have enjoyed since childhood, the creativity I utilize in one domain helps me transition to another.


When our brain is involved in something it enjoys, an intrinsically motivated transference can occur. This is a scientific term defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy that activity itself. Acting on extrinsic motivation is done for the sake of some