Why a hobby well lived has more to do with responsibility than with freedom

Having a hobby means living a philosophy of social and emotional responsibility — here is how.

My hobby is all things related to textiles and sewing. I am lucky enough to be part of a makerspace with several workshops, which gives me the space to dedicate myself to sewing & weaving.

I thoroughly enjoy sewing for myself and others, as well as coming up with new project ideas that fuse the expertises of our different workshops. Latest example of this is the ceramic round weaving frame that my colleague from the ceramics workshops made, and that I turned into a seascape of threads, ropes, wool and beads.

Let’s look at how this hobby enables me to live in a life of responsibility towards myself and others.

What are the characteristics of a hobby well lived?

At first sight, it is all about freedom, individualism or maybe even egoism. A lot has to do with honing my own skills for no other purpose than my satisfaction. Money is spent, time is dedicated, but the only accountability is towards myself.

At least this is the way I considered hobbies for a long time. But things change, I changed … and now I am able to realize that the first benefit of my hobby is not my individual satisfaction, however strong it may be, but my direct and inalienable responsibility to do all I can to live a happy life within the planetary and social boundaries. The deepest effect of me enjoying my hobby is that I become part of the movement towards a more sustainable life, both with regards to materials and to emotions.

These are the typical hobby characteristics that I view as essential in this regard:

  • Material sustainability is achieved in the creating of beauty through crafting, in the use of recycling and upcycling materials and a certain frugality of means.
  • Emotional sustainability is essential. Enjoying my hobby gives me a sense of purpose and control that no paid or unpaid job has ever given me. My efforts align with my values, I am in the flow, I forget about whatever worries I may have. I fill up with positive energy.
  • Social sustainability is in reach too, since the makerspace has hundreds of members, many of which are interested in clothing, sewing and knitting but have had no opportunity to get started until now. All these people can come and share their interests, their skills and hopefully build a network where fast fashion remains outside the door.

In a recent interview, Gerarld Hüther, brain scientist, explains why he thinks that the single most important change we all need to make if we want to survive is to be kinder to ourselves and the planet. https://humiq.de/podcast-good-work/cc91-gerald-huether-hirnforscher-und-autor/

Especially in the professional, work-related activities, kindness to oneself is not a value that many live by. I would like to argue that companies would have many benefits from adopting behaviors that belong to the space of hobbies well-lived.

One of them is to make space for intuition. Especially in the times of robots, it becomes incredibly difficult to develop an intuition of anything, since it can only grow on the bedrock of experience. Now that our experiences are considered too costly to be invested in, we tend to turn into rational but completely detached workers. This is the opposite of a healthy work ethics.
Once intuition is activated again, and given a bit of flexibility, then new things can start to emerge. Creative ideas bubble up. People wake up.

Another is to allow me to control my time. This helps me feeling good about what I do, the way I do it.

And finally the freedom to show my projects and share them with the world, in a way that makes sense to my peers, is something I enjoy tremendously and that I missed in my corporate days, when sharing was a luxury best avoided.

We can not develop a society of resilient individuals without making time and space for experience, for sharing and for reflection. With the current pandemic, it became abundantly clear that we are trespassing some essential boundaries of nature and that we all need to slow down. Let’s all be kinder to ourselves and enjoy our hobbies to the fullest, making each of us feel and live through our shared responsibility for our beautiful planet.

The Future is Now. Creative Leader and Maker @active_value THNKer. Integrating tech, learning and SDGs. Young Garage Lab Lead #yglab www.yglab.de