“A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it, just in the same way as he can wear out the elbows of his coat…to be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.” Winston Churchill, Pall Mall, 1925
I just read Daniel Smith’s book How to Think Like Churchill. I recommend it. Smith has written 26 short chapters about Churchill’s life in a blend of biography and life lessons. We’re all familiar with Churchill’s incredible life and legacy, but before reading the book, I was unaware that he was a huge advocate of hobbies and had many himself. Smith devotes an entire chapter to discussing this topic. Churchill:
- Was a keen fan of music, particularly military marches and classics from the music hall.
- Enjoyed cinema, particularly the works of the Marx Brothers and Walt Disney.
- Was a connoisseur of fine wine, food, and cigars.
- Was a keen hunter, riding with hounds even in his seventies, as well as enjoying big game hunting.
- As a boy he had an interest in stamp collecting and card games.
- Enjoyed landscaping and especially, somewhat unexpectedly, bricklaying, to the extent that he became a member of the Guild of Bricklayers.
- The pastime he enjoyed most was painting. He took up painting in his forties and in his lifetime produced 500 works. He insisted that all his unwieldy artist’s paraphernalia—including stools, easels, canvases and paint boxes—be taken on his exotic travels. In 1948 he published a volume entitled Painting as a Pastime. He was quite good at it; Pablo Picasso said, “If Churchill were a painter by profession, he’d have no trouble making a living.”
A hobby should not be just an extension of your profession. If you’re a CPA working for an accounting firm, reading the latest journal articles about the tax code does not qualify as a hobby. A real hobby might be pursuing scuba diving or ballroom dancing. Escape from your bubble and become a novice in a different area.
A good hobby should initially put you in unfamiliar territory. You’ll start as a neophyte, feel uncomfortable, and fail often. But ultimately you’ll get better and the journey will be invigorating.
I have several major hobbies. I create pedagogical art (art that teaches a lesson) and I am a wine expert (I have three advanced certifications in wine studies and maintain a small vineyard). I enjoy these hobbies so much I often get into the “flow” when engaging in them; I lose track of time and enter a different mental state.
It’s beneficial for couples to share a hobby. My wife and I love to travel. We want to visit 60 countries before we die; we’ve been to 48. We enjoy visiting museums; we’ve been to most of the great art museums in the world. We enjoy cooking together; sometimes we’ll spend three hours preparing and savoring a meal.
Hobbies are extremely beneficial. They:
- Help reduce or eradicate boredom.
- Give you something to do when you have extra time.
- Give you an activity you can look forward to and get excited about.
- Help you develop new skills.
- Enhance your life.
- Relieve stress.
- Promote better health and may lower the risk of high blood pressure.
- May reduce the risk of depression and dementia.
- Some hobbies are good for you physically; they keep you active.
- Improve creativity.
- Get you out of your mental and physical ruts.
- Can strengthen relationships.
- Provide a good transition to retirement.
It’s never too late to start a hobby. The old saying—When is the best time to plant a tree? The best time is twenty years ago; the next best time is today.—applies to starting hobbies.
Please click the respond button and tell your fellow readers—What are your hobbies?