What Is a Hobby?

A hobby is an activity that a person engages in outside their regular occupation and day-to-day activities, usually for enjoyment, personal fulfillment or self-expression. Hobbies may be relaxing, creative or intellectual activities such as painting, playing an instrument, knitting, cooking, writing, gardening, collecting, or tinkering. They can also be social activities such as participating in a club or league, or giving away the fruits of your labor like jam or homemade soap. They are often repetitive and may require a great deal of patience to learn or master.

Hobbies can be as simple as a collection (coins, dolls, books), as involved as a do-it-yourself project such as building or repairing a car or computer, or as complex as creating a video game or coding an app. The most important factor in determining whether an activity is a hobby is if it gives you enjoyment and satisfaction.

Some hobbies date back millennia. In the past, many were considered childish or trivial, but as economic circumstances gave working people leisure time and more regular, predictable schedules, hobbies became more accepted as worthwhile pursuits.

Hobbies can provide a sense of purpose and increase confidence and self-esteem. Hobbies that involve goal-setting and progress-tracking, like gardening or jogging, are especially beneficial for mental health as they encourage you to keep pushing yourself. They can also teach you new skills and challenge you physically or mentally, such as learning a language or taking up woodworking.