Updated on: Sunday, October 17, 2021, 12:02 AM IST

Chanakya Thoughts: Having a hobby is good for your mental health

If you follow your hobby in the right manner, it will make your main occupation more productive

Create a hobby or have a creative hobby. You never know, it can become the purpose of your life. Many consider having a hobby is some activity for passing time. It is not just time-pass, but making use of time very effectively and creatively.

If you look at the definition of a hobby, it means an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation. Gardening, reading books, singing and acting all are considered something a person does other than his or her professional work. But, the reality is different. If you follow your hobby in the right manner, it will make your main occupation more productive.

All great people had hobbies. JRD Tata, an industrialist, liked listening to music from across the globe. Homi Babha, the great nuclear scientist, loved to paint. Einstein, the world-renowned physicist, played the violin and piano apart from sailing and writing travelogues. The hobbies suggested to the king by Chanakya included listening to musical instruments, swimming and hunting among others.

Hunting was a game during those days and Chanakya suggested:

“He should go to a forest containing game, for practising on moving targets” (1.21.23)

Today, most countries have banned hunting as a leisure activity. It is considered a serious crime and animal right activists and governments are working towards the protection of wild and domestic animals. But, we need to look at Chanakya’s suggestion from a different context and a past era. The suggestion for hunting is not given as an act of killing an animal or a bird. It is to practise on a moving target.

A king in those days was also expected to be a great warrior. He is supposed to be an expert in war and defeating enemies was among his prime responsibilities. During leisure time, he is supposed to hunt and even catch animals. But it is not easy to do so. An animal from the forest knows things better than human beings. They understand the jungle and its routes. If you try to catch them, they will easily escape.

The danger is that the hunter can become the hunted. There are high chances that one may get killed in the process of catching an animal. It is a mind game. It has to have a strategy to win.

The same thing applies to other hobbies. If you love gardening, you should study the plants and the seasons. If you are painting, you should understand the colour schemes and patterns. If you are playing an instrument, the ability to differentiate between notes and different scales is essential.


So, you see hobby is a serious activity. Yet, it is not stressful. It actually de-stresses you. So, what should one keep in mind while developing a hobby?

Keep improving

Having a hobby or multiple hobbies is important. It is something we should develop in our life. As reading and writing helps us in all walks of life, a hobby too helps us develop certain skills required in life.

It is also important to upgrade yourself in your hobby. Suppose your hobby is to play the flute. Do not play the same tune every day, even after 20 years. There is no progress or creativity involved. Try and keep improving your hobby. Listen to new tunes and play. If you are a dancer, learn new dance pieces.

Mind becomes more alert

A hobby develops your thinking. It helps you to become subtle and sharp. You are able to appreciate the finer aspects of your hobby over a period of time. It refines you. You start developing insights. Your mind becomes more alert and receptive.

If a person is reading books as a hobby, without awareness, he starts understanding the patterns from various books. He can feel how books are written. He can differentiate between good and bad books. This type of insight developed through the hobby helps in other fields also.

So, if you are a businessman, you start understanding the difference between a good and a bad client. Learning from a hobby can be applied in all fields because everything in life is inter-connected.

Give it time

Don’t leave a hobby midway. Give it a regular time of your day. There are people who have a hobby in their childhood and teenage days. But, then they do not continue it.

Life without a hobby is dull and boring. Whenever, you feel down and low, one can go back to the hobby to get refreshed.

When there is nothing to do, follow your hobby.

When you have many things to do, it’s all the more important to follow your hobby.

(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his twitter @rchanakyapillai)


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Published on: Sunday, October 17, 2021, 07:00 AM IST