Have you ever found yourself drowning in an ocean of negativity and stress amidst a crisis? We live in a world where every individual wants to run the rat-race and getting lost in this fast-paced, grueling society can be incredibly easy. Be it a demanding professor at college, a sadistic boss at work, or even loneliness clawing its way into your life after retirement, life throws a multitude of challenges at us during different phases in life. People often find themselves questioning the meaning of life when the road becomes too rocky to traverse. However, if we try to look past the dark clouds of negativity hovering over us during stressful times, there are many ways to successfully overcome the challenges life throws at us without succumbing to the storm. Successful people often have a common trait; they identify their passion in life and pursue it with utmost dedication. A simple reasoning exists behind this idea; if doing something makes you happy, you will find yourself itching to do it more often.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to make a career out of their deepest passions. People are often born with multiple facets. Behind every engineer, every doctor, every lawyer and every shop vendor hides a musician, artist, dancer or writer waiting to break free from the cage of suppression. Hobbies are often shunned by talented individuals who pursue their careers in an attempt to achieve material glory and professional success. Admittedly, pursuing a hobby as a career could be a risky gamble which may or may not pay off. But how is entering a cut-throat professional industry and staying there for 30-40 years without any sense of happiness less than a punishment? It is during these times that a hobby comes to our rescue by filling the void with light and happiness. Life is bound to throw a bunch of curveballs at you and at such times, hobbies can be the huge source of positivity in our lives. In fact, even as I write this piece, happiness surges through me as the writer inside me finds the wings to fly. Are you itching to set your inner talent free? Keep reading, because there are plenty of reasons why you should be pursuing that hobby that you hold dear to your heart!

India has gained worldwide applause for its rich culture and unique art-forms. As Indians, we are tiny specks on the canvas of cultural recognition and our work directly impacts the rich heritage that we are so proud of! The opportunity to contribute to classical dance-forms like Bharatnatyam or Kuchipudi, revered art-forms like the Rajasthani Mural, Tanjore art or Warli, famous musical repositories like Carnatic and Hindustani music is a privilege we receive as Indians. Moreover hobbies needn’t be confined within the walls of popularity either, it could be reading, writing, tasteful mosaic work, knitting or even unconventional choices like Karate or Judo. The world is your oyster, when it comes to choosing a passion. Choose your favorite den and follow it will all your heart and you will watch yourself wanting to wake up every morning, with a rejuvenated approach towards life. Still not convinced? Here are some proven benefits of pursuing a hobby seriously.

Researchers state that having a hobby is not just beneficial in terms of nurturing inborn talent and promoting art but also provides irreplaceable mental and physical health benefits. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology conducted a study involving 400 employees and found stark differences in the work performances of those who engaged in creative hobbies compared to those who didn’t. One might argue against this counter-intuitive theory by saying that spending time on a hobby would reduce the amount of work input one can provide. However, what goes unnoticed is that nurturing a hobby induces a flow of creativity, patience and an overall better attitude towards work; all of which are golden qualities that employers look for in their employees. In a world where mental health is deteriorating at alarming rates, hobbies keep people afloat by filling them with joy and preventing an early burn-out.

Mentally stimulating hobbies also elevate the mind intellectually and sharpen our senses which come in handy if our professions require a strong presence of mind. According to a recent study by Matthew Zawadzki, who is a health psychologist at the University of California, leisurely activities are known to drastically cut down stress levels while improving focus, inducing happiness and even leading to longer life. The benefits of spending an hour or two every day could translate into days or months in the future due to the massive health boost we gain. In fact, studies suggest that even when the practice ends, such people continue to lead happier lives, void of lethal monsters like depression and negativity. Such monsters continue to invade society and claw their way into young and old minds alike, leading to poor mental health worldwide.

Some people believe that rigorous hobbies like sports or martial arts are the only ones which contribute towards improved physical health. However, hobbies do not necessarily have to be physically consuming in order to positively impact your health. Studies conclusively state that people who engaged in leisurely activities enjoyed health perks like lower blood pressure, body mass index and total cortisol. Even hobbies which involve little or no movement like knitting, craft, reading or learning an instrument are known to elevate the individual to a healthier state of mind and body.

Being stuck in a rut can be quite the dampener on one’s well-being and breaking the monotony often seems impossible. Renowned author Nicholas Sparks, who is known for his hard-hitting and emotional literary masterpieces, believes that the saddest people are those who don’t care deeply about anything in life. Passion and satisfaction are like two sides of the same coin, both go hand in hand and lead to long-lasting happiness. Thus creating an outlet for your creative juices by adopting a hobby will positively make you a cheerful and satisfied person who can enjoy the little things in life.

The best part about choosing a hobby is the fact that there are a plethora of options before us and if we feel like a misfit in one, we can always try another. Be it physical or mental stimulation, a variety of activities are present these days which satiate the mind, body and soul. Also, one never truly knows one’s limit until forced to push oneself and achieve. Hobbies allow us to explore ourselves to our maximum potential and it is quite plausible that you may surprise yourself by surpassing your own expectations. By getting better at a hobby, one’s perception of self-worth also rises by several notches, thus inducing a heightened sense of confidence and positive vibes.

For those who are exceptional at their respective hobbies, these extra-curricular activities can even prove be an additional source of income. One not only gains mentally and physically but also monetarily, which can be quite rewarding too. Artists who manage to sell their prized art possessions feel encouraged to continue creating new peices. This domino effect in turn impacts our culture as a whole and provides us a platform to showcase our talent.

Disconnected from all material and worldly pleasures lies the innermost part of the human soul which advocates spirituality. By indulging in something that moves our soul, we recharge our minds and bodies in ways that no materialistic or worldly pleasure can. When we feel deeply passionate about something, it is almost as if the universe will bend backwards to help us achieve our best and it is this drive that pushes us to be the best version of ourselves. Hobbies truly transform us spiritually, mentally and physically which is why even tech-giants like Facebook tend to hire creatively inclined people. Mark Zuckerberg believes that people who have a hobby show zeal and drive and such people are always a pleasure to work with. Now that the incredibly successful and hugely admired Harvard dropout has given his verdict, have you decided on a hobby which makes you feel warm and fuzzy?