In Tenerife, Spain.

What is a hobby?

The online dictionary states that a hobby is:

Hobby: “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation:
Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving”

This pleasure and relaxation is how my hobby has contributed to my happiness and how a hobby could possibly contribute to your happiness.

My hobby: Jiu Jitsu!

Training in my hobby, jiu jitsu

Jiu Jitsu Training

I started Gracie Jiu jitsu just under 5 years ago. Until recently I never really appreciated all the benefits that come as part of it. I had noticed the obvious things such as:

  • An increase in strength and fitness.
  • The desire to eat healthier.
  • A boost in self confidence because I’m no longer scared of physical confrontation.
  • And just becoming a calmer person.

What happened when I stopped my hobby

I had hit rock bottom, I was unkempt and unhygienic, becoming a loner, and withdrawn.

For personal reasons I stopped training for about 8 weeks. Those 8 weeks were awful. My daily routine became wake up and go to work, come home and binge watch a series and eat all the junk food I could find. My days off I would lay in bed feeling sorry for myself and hopeless. I would scroll through facebook dwelling on other people’s happiness and success. I felt awful that nobody ever bothered to check up on me and see how I was doing or just text me to chat. When my friends did ask me to join them I made up silly excuses so that I didn’t have to leave my room which had become more like a cave. I had hit rock bottom, I was unkempt and unhygienic, becoming a loner, and withdrawn.

My hobby was what was missing

I just didn’t want to live anymore. Luckily for me that’s when I realised I had a problem. I hadn’t felt this bad about myself in a very long time. I thought long and hard about it and quickly realised what was missing in my life; throughout school, college and university I had extra curricular activities or made time for playing. I didn’t stop running around the woods after school with my brother and our friends until i was 17. When i was in 6th form we had basketball practice twice a week and I played pool in the common room and at home. In college I volunteered 2 nights a week and in university I started Jiu jitsu.

Returning to Jiu Jitsu

For the 2 hours I was there and a few more afterwards I was on an adrenaline and euphoric high.

The dramatic thing that had changed in my life was stopping my hobby. The night I went back to Jiu jitsu I was dreading it, I hadn’t trained in 2 months I thought it would bring back bad memories, I was full of self doubt about my abilities. I walked in and everyone was so happy to see me. Everyone wanted to know if work had kept me from training and they were all so eager to share what they’d been up to, introduce me to new members for the club and just have a laugh. For the 2 hours I was there and a few more afterwards I was on an adrenaline and euphoric high.

It’s what I look forward to!

I have something in my life to look forward to. It’s good for my self esteem, and that high feeling is addictive. Whenever I’m training I forget about all my problems, they are left at the door and the next 2 hours is spent doing something that I enjoy. It’s “me time”, time to lose myself in an activity and just focus on enjoyment and improving myself. Having that little break from all the stresses of my life makes a world of difference to my mood, and I become more productive because I’m in that better mood.

It’s also helped me become more sociable

Socialising in my hobby, jiu jitsu

Because jiu jitsu is something you can not really do alone, the forced interaction with other people has helped me socially. Just interacting with other people is lovely and much nicer than being alone in all my free time. Not all activities will offer that chance to be around others, but they do still offer the chance to work at something you like for pleasure. Jiu jitsu isn’t work and it isn’t a chore for me to do, it’s something for me to go and have fun at. There was no fun or enjoyment being sat in my room.

The feeling of joy when I learn a new technique is probably not too dissimilar to the feeling a runner gets after beating their personal best, a photographer editing the perfect photo, or a musician finally mastering a piece they’ve been practicing. These moments of joy make such a difference to us as people. I really do believe these moments are why having a hobby can help with sadness and depression.

These feelings can be applied to any hobby

People that train jiu jitsu are always saying it makes them a better person and how it’s saved their life. This may be true due to the philosophies and teaching behind the art. I also believe this is true for all hobbies. Recently I asked a friend if she ever felt depressed and if her hobby helped her. She said it gave her a reason to not to just sit at home all day. It stopped her focusing on all the negative things in her life. She is now so good at her hobby that she gets to travel abroad and play the game she loves whilst visiting many other countries.

TL;DR My hobby contributes to my happiness! 🙂

I started noticing those around me that didn’t have some sort of interest or hobby. Whether it’s running, reading, photography, going to the gym, online gaming, the one’s without hobbies seemed very unsatisfied with their lives. This is all my opinion, but there have also been many professional studies that show some sort of link between depression and hobbies.

My hobby has made me more relaxed and happier. My hobby has given me a place to escape from my worries for a while, a way to socialise and meet new people, and a reason to get out of my cave. Without jiujitsu I’d be a very different person, and that is how my hobby has helped me.

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