Saturday, 10 November 2012

A happy hobby

Hobby: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.

Which is why, when I heard happiness described as a 'hobby' on the happiness weekend I attended, it stuck with me.

I've often seen happiness referred to as a habit, which work as well, but, paradoxically, the word 'habit' seems to drain all the happy out. Habits are a bit grunty and run of the mill aren't they?  The point of a habit is that you do it so much it ends up being almost unconscious, involuntary.

But the science of happiness tells us that being present, conscious and mindful are all important ingredients in our happiness stew which, for me, leaves the habit pie feeling a bit tasteless.

Hobby, on the other hand has some lovely parallels with lessons from positive psychology. A hobby is something you actively choose to do; happiness is a state you can actively choose to be in.  A hobby is something that brings you explanation needed there.  A hobby normally involves mastering some skill or other; mastery is another happiness ingredient. Mastery involves an element of practice and we could all do with practising where happiness is concerned. Regular practice gives us some kind of structure to our time and structure, regular practice breeds happiness. I've talked about the concept of 'flow' on here before and if ever we're to get lost in flow, it's whilst we're busy with a hobby.  According to Csikszentmihalyi being in flow and happiness go hand in hand.  I could go on, but I think the point is made.

I just really love the idea of choosing happiness as a hobby, setting aside time to practice it regularly, recognising it as something you need to work at and keep up in order to get better at it. It's brilliant.

So, that's my new hobby. Being happy.

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