The Cambridge Dictionary defines a hobby as an activity that someones does for pleasure when they are not working. All of us have hobbies to be sure. Some of us may have just the one, which we stick to, come rain or shine. Others, a plethora of them. If any of you were feeling guilty at enjoying your hobby, read on to know more of its varied benefits for one and all. There Are Hobbies and There Are Hobbies Photo Credit: At Home With Daneen To say that the scope of hobbies is wide, would be an understatement. Hobbies can encompass anything and everything. Since they hinge on the preference of each person, every hobby, chosen and nurtured, is deeply personal. Hobbies can range from the simple and mundane to the dangerous and complicated. Many people list reading as an avid hobby but there are others who challenge themselves to taking up skydiving, deep sea fishing or BASE jumping as hobbies. From Whence It Came Photo Credit: So Sew Easy All hobbies have their beginnings and sometimes, sadly, endings. Concentrating on their beginnings, many can trace the birth of their hobbies to a specific time or memorable event. Alice,* a mother of 4 adult children distinctly remembers the very day she made her first attempt at cross stitch. "We learned it in school. I remember my teacher telling me to bring some plain fabric for the activity. We had nothing at home but some green felt cloth. I took that with me the following day. The school provided the tapestry needles and off we went!", she said, with a twinkle in her eye. "I was hooked that day on. Coming back from school, I showed my rather rudimentary and uneven work to my Aunt. She was so supportive of me. Immediately she set out and got me the right cross stitch material, which is Aida cloth, and a few skeins of DMC thread." Alice's hobby has been with her for 40 years, with no signs of slowing down, much less stopping. If You Fail, Try, Try Again Photo Credit: Clip Dealer While Alice did take to cross stitch like a duck to water, not all her projects were successful. Hobbies, to develop, require a bit of a push, a challenge, if you will. This applies to a hobby even as common as reading. Lucy* can still recall the day she managed to put the random alphabets together to form words and then on to read. "I must have been about 4 - 5 and attempting to read the Peter and Jane books. Of all my childhood memories, this one is the most poignant. Once I could do that, my reading took flight." Lucy is a voracious reader. While her favourite genre is horror, she has challenged herself to read a wide variety topics to enhance not only her knowledge but also to broaden her linguistic reach. "Sometimes the material can be as dull as a doorknob but I persevere because I know the challenge is good for me. To keep my concentration and attention on the page, I read out loud." Challenging one's hobby has a two pronged benefit. It upscales the hobby whilst deepening our passion towards it. Alice concurs, "if I only did simple cross stitch all the time, I would bored stiff. Committing to something more challenging gives it more\u00a0uumph!" The Sky's The Limit Photo Credit: Via.comBlog There are no limits to how many hobbies you can have. Some people like to read. When chances permit, you can catch them reading in between work and the other things which press for their daily attention. Then there are others who vary their hobbies. Take Michelle*. She loves to read and does so voraciously. However, she also loves hiking and travels extensively, especially off the beaten track, when her wallet and work commitments allow. Those with a spectrum of hobbies, divide their passions roughly into weekly, ad hoc, yearly and always hobbies. This gives them something to plan and look forward to all year round. Expanding Your Horizon Photo Credit: Polka Dot Design New Year's Resolutions and Bucket Lists commonly list taking up a new hobby as something to commit yourself to do. While some of us are naturally attracted to some hobbies, for instance, reading or cooking, others are developed by choice and through practice and perseverance. Not everyone is naturally inclined to pottery or knitting, but making that conscious choice allows you to foray into an art or craft you would not ordinarily be drawn to. Giving yourself a measure of time to learn and to work at it may be just the thing to transform a passing interest into a real home grown hobby. It also gives you the allowance to ditch it, if after a period of trial and error, it does not present a good fit for you. An Unexpected Development Photo Credit: Creative Images Nobody is born good at their hobbies. Through the combination of a passionately driven will, constant practice and perseverance, hobbies perfect themselves in time. Yoke Quin* loves painting. When she was a child, her grandmother diligently took her for weekly lessons, although the studio was located far away from their home. Initially, she hated going for the classes which were held on Saturdays. She longed to stay home and read, which was her favourite pastime. But her grandmother was insistent and brooked no argument. In time, as her skills grew, she slowly developed a fondness for the craft. "You cannot imagine how I felt when I started scoring easy As for Art back when I was in school. I was far from being the studious type and the As really boosted my morale. In time, I was making headway in my other subjects as well. Had my grandmother not pushed me, I would have never performed as well as I did at school and had the chance of having such a fulfilling hobby today." Perfection Through Imperfection Photo Credit: FreeDesignFile As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect". Sita* learned to play the piano when she was at the tender age of 5. While she liked to play, she not much care for the constant practicing for exams. In her teens, she decided to drop playing the piano altogether. Her parents reluctantly agreed but kept her piano. A few years later, she tentatively restarted her playing, just for the fun of it. "Second time's the charm. Without the pressure of exams, I could learn new pieces and play those I liked." Hobbies, to a greater or lesser degree needs practice to perfect itself. Nobody plays a music score to perfection at their first try, just as no one can bake an elaborately designed wedding cake on the first try either. For Alice, since her cross stitch projects were all one time attempts, she kept trying out new projects to feed her habit and better herself. "If I botched a project, I would force myself to move on and not beat myself up about it. Choosing a new project and using the lessons learned from the past, helped me strengthen and develop my skills." For Sita, the situation was the total opposite. "I made it a point to practice until I got a piece just right before moving on to the next one. Slowly, over time I built myself a repertoire. It has taken years. I still practice the old songs so I do not get rusty, when I can, that is." Love Them For Themselves Photo Credit: Masterfile We love our hobbies for what they are. Some people are quite content to go plain sailing with their hobbies. Nothing wrong there. However, others may feel they need to upscale their hobbies because the besting of a challenge keeps their passion honed. Again, nothing wrong there. Hobbies are flexible because they are tailored to suit our individual likes, wants and desires. Be Prepared To Spend Hobbies like reading, do not necessarily cost much especially if you source for second hand books or visit the library to feed your passion. Today e-libraries abound, which you can join and for a small fee each month, get to read their vast collections. However, if you are a bibliophile, you might like to own books fresh of the press. That can put a little dent in your wallet as New Releases are always pricier. To pursue a hobby, you will need to lay down the money. Just be mindful to set up and keep to a fixed budget so as not to overspend. Alice just purchases what she needs for the project at hand. "There are loads of patterns out there and you can be tempted to buy something for the next and the next project. But projects take a while to complete. By the time you finish your current project, something else might strike your fancy, leaving what you bought to waste." Extraordinary hobbies like BASE jumping, skydiving or piloting can be quite expensive to commit and maintain to. Before choosing a hobby, it is a good idea to do a little research beforehand on the financial impact your hobby will have on your lifestyle. It would be a pity to be forced to ditch a hobby when costs overrun your available budget. Share And Share Alike Photo Credit: Pinterest Some hobbies are family and friend - friendly, for example, yoga, hiking or embroidery. Feel free to share your love with the others. The more, the merrier! A sewing circle, for instance is a way for like minded embroidery enthusiasts to come and complete\u00a0 a project together by hand. Completed projects can be sold for charity, if not kept as a treasured keepsake. In addition to creating beautiful heirloom pieces, you can make new, like-minded friends. Why Have A Hobby? Photo Credit: Vskills A lot of research has been done on hobbies. Quite a few benefits have been unearthed. Here are just a few for your consideration. It Gives Pleasure Doing anything which brings pleasure and joy release endorphins. Endorphins are the "feel good" hormone which can make us happy.\u00a0 When we are happy and joyful, our lives achieve homeostasis, or balance. As such, hobbies can help us achieve work - life balance. It Is A De-stressor Hard day at work? Everything topsy turvy on what started out as a mundane day? When stress runs high, hobbies can help release tension and soothe our ruffled feathers. Journalling is a great de-stressor, as are exercising, yoga and hiking, among others. Un-focus To Re-focus Hobbies can distract us from problems or worries gnawing incessantly away at us. Mindfully concentrating on your hobby, for instance, playing the piano, push those troubles onto the back burner, thereby easing your mind, even if only momentarily. Sometimes that shift is the very thing we need to find a solution to what worries us. Improves Overall Health Photo Credit: Masterfile By easing stress, hobbies can help improve our mental health. While it is not a quick fix solution, it goes some way in aiding us. Hobbies can also improve our physical health if committed to daily. Hiking, kayaking or running are some examples that can keep us in tip top form. Additionally, playing the piano, crocheting and knitting keeps our motor skills finely tuned and limbers our fingers. Limber fingers can help reduce the painful effects of arthritis as age catches up on us. It Sparks Creativity Many hobbies call for creativity, especially those like journalling, scrapbooking, knitting, baking and cooking, just to name a few. Creativity makes us better problem solvers, a handy life skill. Creativity also boosts self improvement which, in turn bolsters self confidence. Passing It On PHoto Credit: Pinterest Hobbies are best started when young. It enriches the lives of\u00a0 the little ones, sparks their creativity and keeps them preoccupied in their free time. Reading, playing football, or the piano, may not start out as hobbies since they are required for either academic progress or as extra curricular activities, but they can become hobbies in time, for some children. At times, you may need to help them find a hobby which tweaks their interest. It does take some trial and error to find the right fit. Your journey of discovery is an adventure. Keep at it. They will surely thank you for it. Moms, you can also share your hobbies with them. It would be a wonderful way to pass on your own family tradition. For instance, some grandmothers have passed down their love of reading to their daughters, and in turn, that baton was handed over to their own children. Some kids may want to buck family traditions and branch out on their own, finding their own hobbies, well off the beaten track. Your love, care and support will go a long way in enriching their lives as they pursue their passions. Who knows, you may just find a new hobby to add into your growing list. *Names have been changed.