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What Are the Best Hobbies to Pick Up?

If a hobby is a recreational pursuit, something that is done with one’s spare or leisure time, then what activity outside of work isn’t a hobby? Is sleeping a hobby? What about eating? Can unemployment be considered a hobby?
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To shed a little more light on what a hobby really is, consider the reasons why people start one. Some people seek hobbies to relax. Others have specific goals, like building their self-esteem or reaching a certain level of expertise. And still there are some people who simply want to exercise their brains. So a hobby can be learning a new language, taking up a sport, mastering a craft, making art, or collecting specific things. 

There are a slew of other hobbies that are easy and inexpensive to start. Below are just a few suggestions. 

Collecting Things
Starting and maintaining a collection is something anyone can do, and the type of thing that is collected can vary in dollar value and size. For instance, my six-year-old son collects baseball cards, packs of which cost anywhere between two and twenty dollars. My seventy-year-old mother collects Lladro figurines, each one costing at least a few hundred dollars. And the talk show host Jay Leno collects cars and motorcycles, an expensive hobby that takes more investment. If I were starting my first collection, I would probably try my hand at something more akin to my son’s baseball cards. 

Collecting is probably the easiest hobby to start because you don’t need any special knowledge or equipment. It can immediately be started on a whim; for instance, you might buy wind chimes while on a beach vacation and then decide to start wind chime collection. Or someone gives your kid a comic book for her birthday and thus begins her lifelong collection and obsession with Archie and Friends

You can collect stamps, certain types of toys, baseball cards, comic books, action figures, model trains, certain types of clothing or accessories like hats or rings, cookie jars, figurines, posters, or rocks. You can set the parameters of your collection, narrow down the type of item by time span, material, or manufacturer. 

Brain Exercises
Learning a new game or mastering an already learned game can really boost a person’s self-confidence. The “analog” games are the ones that I would try over the current regimes of PSP and Wii. Board games, card games, word searches, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku are everywhere you look. If you buy a daily newspaper, chances are you will find a word search or the familiar Sudoku grid inside. 

Take a trip to your local public library. Whether it’s learning a new language or simply reading books of any genre, the library is commonly overlooked, forsaken in favor of the quick Google search and impulse Amazon purchase. And, don’t forget—the library has movies, too.   

Easy Crafts
Some types of crafts are harder to learn than others. But with a good set of written and illustrated instructions, some crafts are universally easy. Sure, every book ever written on any type of craft will advertise itself as being so easy that anyone can do it. But these three crafts have the added incentive of being cheap, too. 

Origami
Though there are special papers that you can buy, any foldable paper will do. Magazine advertisements are perfect because they are colorful as well as plentiful. Colorful flyers that somehow wind up in your mailbox are another source of origami paper. And you can get origami books from the library or check out video instructions via YouTube.com. 

Sewing
Needle and thread. Scissors. Old clothes. Tada! Now begin sewing. My first sewing project was a sock monkey, which is incredibly easy and super fun to make.  

Scrapbooking
Who doesn’t have photos, a photo album, scissors, and a glue stick? You can get fancy with all the embellishments, whether they’re store-bought or homemade. There are many Web sites that help neophyte scrapbookers get their feet wet, so don’t feel intimidated by the boxes of undated and unorganized photos in your closet. 

Outdoor Hobbies
The easiest types of outdoor hobbies are the ones that do not require you to learn a new physical skill. Walking, running, and hiking, for instance, are all based on something you learned as a toddler. As long as you wear the proper foot attire, you should be good to go. 

Bird-watching requires you to sit quietly in a wooded area and search high and low through a pair of binoculars. Sitting and looking are quite passive skills that should not be too hard to do; although the bird identification itself can be challenging, this is part of what makes it fun. Buying a book and borrowing a pair of binoculars are the only things required before starting, and many recreational areas have free, guided bird watching tours. 

Digital Photography
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a digital camera these days. Taking pictures for the sheer pleasure of color, content, and composition has never been easier. And Web sites like Flickr encourage amateur digital photographers to share their photos and talk about their experiences. If you don’t want the cost of buying and maintaining a color printer, most local photo labs and online services like Kodak Easyshare Gallery and Snapfish offer inexpensive digital prints. 

Although it’s easy to peg sleeping or watching TV as hobbies (i.e., they’re done during your leisure time) a true hobby is one where you learn something, exercise your brain, body, or creative skills, and end up feeling immensely rewarded for your all your hard work … er, I mean, fun. 

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