So, what do you do for fun? It's a question that tends to help us get to know someone far better than any "what do you do for living" or "what's your favorite television show" would. It's also a question I see people struggle to answer all the time.
Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, helped us better understand why that might be. Through research, Putnam discovered a sweeping decline in civic engagement in the United States. From art communities to neighborhood book clubs, to yes, even bowling leagues, there has been a significantly rapid increase of “I’m too busy, maybe next week”s. Over a few generations, Americans have somehow misplaced their free time.
Consider this: maybe we aren’t all as busy as we think we are. Yes, we’ve done a pretty great job at convincing ourselves that we don’t have any time. There are certainly significant factors that have made us become “busier” than generations before us.
We’re spending longer hours at work (or school) than in years past. Because of smartphones and laptops, our work find its way home with us on our weekends. The free time that we do have becomes short sprints of checking social media on our phones, watching a “quick” episode of Game of Thrones, or skim-reading headlines of news articles on Twitter.
I challenge you to consolidate those short sprints into one single hour a week. Rip off that “I’m too busy” badge of honor, and find a few moments on any given Wednesday to get back into your proverbial bowling league. It’s proven that hobbies reduce stress, create more clarity at work, and tend to keep us in better physical health. They promote flow, get us into unlikely social circles, and to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Colorado Richard Gabriel, they keep us sane.
"I see people go into college and law school, they think all the things they love have to end... When students ask me for advice, I tell them: ‘Don’t stop playing. You can always play."
In sitting down with Judge Gabriel, we were able to learn more about his own personal work-life balance, where his interests in the trumpet began, and how it kept his mind grounded during years of undergraduate and law school.
Here are some really interesting (and some just fun) links that we have been recently indulging in to learn more about hobbies and play.
- Looking to create a more future-proof life? Adam Fletcher gives an inspiring talk about work-life balance from the perspective of your personal finances. It includes a simple framework to help determine how to spend money in pursuit of a lifestyle, not its products.
"My dream was to learn and master the Carnival of Venice. i was okay at it. And that was okay!" An EXPLO teacher's favorite song arranged for the trumpet: Carnival of Venice
- Discovering where the word "hobby" originated was a hobby in it of itself. Here, you can read its origins via the history of the hobbyhorse.
- Head of EXPLO at Wheaton’s David Torcoletti has created time to make sure his hobby stays front and center. For the last year, David has been taking his lunch breaks photographing his latest project: The Automile.
- “Segway polo is the one thing I will block off my calendar for,” says Steve Wozniak. You read that right. The Apple co-founder’s most enjoyed hobby is playing segway polo. There’s something out there for everyone.
- Sometimes the things you do for fun end up inspiring the rest of the world to follow suite. Satoshi Tajiri loved collecting and examining bugs so much he turned his love into a game otherwise known as....*drumroll*...Pokémon.
- Elizabeth Gilbert on distinguishing between jobs, hobbies, and vocation. I found this helpful not in defining these terms, but defining how we use — and should use —these terms in our every-day.
At EXPLO, finding your hobby takes on many forms, exercises, and events. Just a few EXPLO experiences that encourage students to never stop playing include:
- Course: There's nothing like hearing "order in the court" from a Judge himself! In Mock Trial, defend your argument in front of Justice Richard Gabriel of the Colorado Supreme Court (grades 10-12)
- Create Your Own Club: At EXPLO, we encourage you to start your own club, where it's easy to find fellow students interested in gathering together to share like-minded interests and past-times (grades 8+9, 10-12)
- Activity: “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Participate in an afternoon of Bob Ross-Inspired Painting, where anyone at any skill level can walk away with a piece of art they're proud of. (grades 4-7)
- Activity: If you love to run but hate competing, join students in Morning Workout League, enjoying the rising sun while strolling around Lake Waban (grades 8+9)
- Evening Event: Every night, choose between the main attraction — Student Talent Show, local bands, dances, magicians — or camp out in an art studio, game room, or writer's lounge to work on a personal project (grades 8+9, 10-12)
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Stephanie LaMont + Adam French