In the days of old, leisure time was not thought of as a chance to “veg out,” but as an opportunity to pursue one’s passions and interests — an outlet for the sides of a man that were not stimulated in his professional vocation. Hobbies were deemed important for the way in which they can strengthen every part of a man’s life. They can bring you joy, increase your eye for detail, keep your mind sharp, expand your creativity, help you meet friends, and teach you valuable skills. In short, hobbies add interest to your life and help you become a more well-rounded man.
Unfortunately, we now often spend our leisure time camped out in front of the TV or computer. We feel that modern life has become so busy and stressful (even though it hasn’t) that when we have free time, laying on the couch is all we can manage.
Yet if you’ve been feeling depressed, restless, anxious, and in need of real refreshment, the problem may be a lack of activity, rather than too much of it.
As Winston Churchill, a vigorous hobbyist, put it:
“It is no use saying to the tired ‘mental muscles’… ‘I will give you a good rest,’ ‘I will go for a long walk,’ or ‘I will lie down and think of nothing.’ The mind keeps busy just the same. If it has been weighing and measuring, it goes on weighing and measuring. If it has been worrying, it goes on worrying…It is useless to argue with the mind in this condition…A gifted American psychologist has said, ‘worry is a spasm of the emotion; the mind catches hold to something and will not let it go.’ One can only gently insinuate something else into its convulsive grasp. And if this something else is rightly chosen, if it is really attended by the illumination of another field of interest, gradually, and often quite swiftly, the old undue grip relaxes and the process of recuperation and repair begins.”
For those of you who want to have an engaging hobby, but aren’t sure what pastime to pursue, we’ve created a couple guides to hobbies over the years. Yet even after the second was published, we continued to come up with more ideas. So we decided to compile all the old ideas along with the new into one ultimate list of hobbies for men. This still isn’t an exhaustive list, but there is surely something that will catch your eye, or will spur you to think of one yet unmentioned.
Our hope is that every man is able to find a hobby that can turn into an enjoyable pastime during the current season of his life, and maybe even become an enduring passion that lasts a lifetime.
There couldn’t be a manlier hobby than reading. Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader, and so were most of the great men of history. Reading allows you to connect with the great thinkers and writers of history and exposes you to new ideas, consequently making you a more intelligent and well-rounded man. If you have access to a library card, reading can actually be a completely free hobby. If you need some ideas on what to read, look no further than our many reading lists. You should also bone up on how to read a book. (Of course it seems straightforward, but it’s not always so!)
Looking to be a part of a tight-knit community with a focus on radio and communication? Look no further than ham radio. While the internet has taken radio’s place as the dominant form of communication, a vibrant community of amateur radio enthusiasts still exists. Radio hobbyists enjoy communicating directly with people from all over the world while expanding their knowledge of radio theory. In addition, most ham radio operators provide a public service to their communities by acting as relays in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. Radio operation is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so you’ll have to be licensed to use a radio. Licensing isn’t difficult at all — you just have to take a multiple choice test that covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory. And of course you’ll need the equipment. Buying new will set you back a pretty penny, but you can find good deals on used radio equipment on eBay. For more info about getting started with ham radio check out the National Association of Amateur Radio.
Playing the Guitar
Knowing how to play the guitar is a skill that will provide you and those around you with years of enjoyment. Oh, and chicks like a guy that can play guitar. Personally, I’ve used my guitar skills to serenade Kate and get myself out of the doghouse. And later in life you can gather the family around your backyard fire pit for some awesome sing-alongs. Learning to play any instrument is manly, of course, but guitars have the advantage of being relatively cheap, and having an easier learning curve for beginners. There are tons of resources online that provide free guitar lessons (I’ve had good success with www.justinguitar.com), including an AoM article on the 3 guitar chords every man should know.
Your grandpa knew how to dance, so why not harness your inner Fred Astaire by taking up ballroom dancing too? Ballroom dancing can help increase your self-confidence, poise, and posture. It’s also a fun way to get some cardiovascular exercise in. And of course, ladies dig a gent who knows how to lead them on the dance floor. Most cities have ballroom dancing studios — just do a quick Google search to find the ones near you and then go talk to the instructors to get a feel for their style as well as check on their credentials. Private classes go for around $50 a pop. If you’re married or have a girlfriend, ballroom dancing is a great date night activity. If you’re a bachelor, it’s a great way to meet new women.
Parkour: that sport where you jump from buildings and vault over walls. Or more accurately, parkour is a physical art — the art of moving through your environment in the most natural and efficient way possible. It’s captivating to see someone able to traverse a landscape in ways not previously conceived of, and inspiring to witness the human body pushing the very limits of its capabilities. While we think of parkour today as simply an interesting form of recreation, it was actually developed as a tactical skill and way to build the fitness of soldiers. The benefits of this hobby are numerous: it’s fun, it’s a great workout, it pushes the bounds of your creativity, it’s a mental and physical challenge, and it could in fact save your life should you ever need the capability to run and jump over objects. And, it’s completely free. All you need is your arms and legs and some urban terrain. Read our primer on parkour, and get started today!