HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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effective relationship. A sincere and caring friendship is worth more than the expansive travels and costly challenges of some of those places and things that make some bucket lists. A true friendship is one of the most cherished experiences in life. That ought to be on just about everyone’s bucket list.


SOURCES AND RESOURCES


By definition, a bucket list is a list of experiences or accomplishments a person hopes to have or complete during his or her lifetime. It takes time to examine your life and decide which experiences really count. You can spend an enormous amount of time reading bucket list books and visiting Web sites looking for inspiration, realizing you would need a substantial amount of time and money to travel the world or buy expensive things. In some cases, a traditional bucket list item may require a large amount of talent to achieve.


In the movie “The Bucket List,” billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers until they share a hospital room. They both have a need to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives. They find some common ground when they begin to work on a list of things they want to see and do before they die – before they kick the bucket. The men leave the hospital against medical advice and set out on the adventure of a lifetime. The friendship that develops between them is the true treasure.


Research suggests one of our most important needs is for friendship and love in our lives. Because there is no single definition of friendship, the friendships we personally experience can mean many different things, depending on the people involved. Friendship for some may be a boyfriend or girlfriend, while for others a common interest brings

NARROW YOUR BUCKET LIST

them together. For someone else, a trauma or tragedy forms their friendships. It may take a long time for some to consider someone else a friend, while others find an almost instant connection upon meeting. Some people need time and shared experiences to get to know someone else before that person becomes their friend.


What are the ingredients of a good friendship? Both parties need to experience lasting trust, which, according to psychologist Erik Erikson, is the foundation of any relationship. When trust exists, each person feels the autonomy or freedom to be themselves in the relationship. The essentials of a good lifelong relationship include other components that must exist and be experienced in sequential order (Friedman 2000). These must be followed by what Erikson refers to as the initiative to work for the benefit of the relationship. When this condition is met, industry must occur, which is the balance of what each person brings in their personhood to the relationship.


It is only after these elements of trust, autonomy, initiative and industry exist in the relationship that it has what Erikson calls identity. It looks like and feels like an

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller