NYTimes: The Case for Having a Hobby

The Case for Having a Hobby https://nyti.ms/2G2D0cG

In my garden.


Isn’t it telling that you forgot?” said Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” when I told her I had blanked on the word.

“That’s so indicative of where we are in our culture right now, that you can actually forget what it is to have something you like to do that’s not a) tied to work and b) productive,” Ms. Schulte said.

While researching her book Ms. Schulte realized how many “lifehacks” make hobbies out to be keys to productivity rather than activities just meant to be enjoyed, and she saw that it was difficult for people to get out of that way of thinking.

But eventually, she found that people responded to “neuroscience and research about how you need a space where you’re calm that leads to insight.” Yet even with that knowledge in hand, Ms. Schulte said, people still saw hobbies as means to improve their performance at work. “That’s the only way I can break through to people about why having leisure is important.”

Indeed, Americans’ difficult relationship with leisure is nothing new.

“People forget that when we were negotiating the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, there were three conditions people wanted: minimum wage, 40-hour workweek and mandatory two-week vacation,” Ms. Schulte said. We got two out of three, “and we’ve been stuck ever since.” One in four Americans has no access to paid time off, and those who do often don’t take all of their vacation time or they spend their vacations checking email. Many of us have been taught to hate not being productive, and we’ve structured our culture around work, not play.

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