We exist in a computer age, relying on devices such as our smart phones and watches, laptops and more. We even turn to them to play fun games such as Pokémon GO, Words with Friends, Threes, and others. As we increasingly keep our heads buried in our computers and rely on mobile gaming apps for entertainment, we risk losing pleasurable activities that were once extremely popular – ones that require creativity, skills, and the use of our hands. Here are three examples:
Woodworking – is a skilled activity where items are made from wood. This art comes in many forms, such as carving, joinery, woodturning, and carpentry. Wood is one of the earliest materials used by humans and helped build civilization. From creating hunting spears and tools to building coffins, furniture, and structures, woodworking was a necessary and essential skill to acquire. Scriptures refer to Jesus as a carpenter, a trade he likely learned from his father. Though there is some debate over whether Jesus was technically a builder or handyman, most scholars agree that he was a craftsman who worked with his hands and with natural materials such as wood and stone. And we know his skills as a builder included spiritual building as well. Woodwork is considered a powerful medium for creating practical and elaborate things. But it is also a means of building self-esteem. Not only does it involve a mastery of tools, but the art of woodworking involves math, problem solving, critical thinking, imagination, concentration, perseverance and more. Many woodworkers report a great sense of satisfaction in working with natural materials from the earth and with tools created by man such as saws, hammers, chisels and more. Above all, it takes the use of one’s hands and imagination to create and build something special.
Sewing – With the development and eventual mass production of the domestic sewing machine, sewing became a technology mainly geared toward women that led to the creation of clothing at home. World War II adversely affected sewing in the U.S. as fabrics became scarce, sewing machine factories readied for war production, and women were encouraged to use minimal materials or make do with what they had. After the war, sewing became a leisure activity and reached its pinnacle in the late 1950s as a hobby. Home Economics programs encouraged women to sew, though homemade fashions would eventually see a decline in the 1970s, in part due to women entering the professional workforce. The ability to buy clothing cheaply also encouraged a decline in home sewing. Many of us may fondly recall watching our great grandmothers, grandmothers, or mothers sew, and we may still possess their old-fashioned sewing machine or beautiful creations. In many cases, they passed the skill along to younger generations to keep the tradition alive. Home sewing is a wonderful experience that taps into creativeness, fashion, and handiwork skills. Not only does sewing involve healthy brain activity that tests one’s ability to plan, measure, and solve problems, but it also increases dexterity and is an excellent form of self-expression.
Gardening – Numerous studies demonstrate that kids today are lacking in physical activity, and the problem isn’t exclusive to the USA. The University of West Australia studied the skills of children aged three to eight from 41 schools and 11 childcare centers over a five-year period. The results concluded that children these days did not perform as well physically as previous generations. In part, the decline in physical performance is likely attributed to lifestyle changes. This includes increased time by the younger generation spent indoors on social media, watching television, and playing video games, for example, which ultimately translates into less time spent outdoors engaging in exercises such as playing ball, riding bikes, and climbing trees. Gardening outdoors is considered a form of exercise as it enables people to burn calories as they beautify their yards and properties while growing things. Not only does gardening involve learning about plants, animals, soil, weather and more, but it also enables one to connect with nature and appreciate the goodness that comes from the earth. People can also engage in protecting the environment, being good stewards of the earth, and living more healthfully.
There is inherent value in acquiring specialty skills like woodworking, sewing, and gardening. Not only do they increase creativity and resourcefulness, but these fun activities also expand and stimulate the mind. Having a favorite pastime is more than doing something to kill time, it is about increasing one’s capacity to learn and develop – and discovering joy in what one can produce by means of hard work, determination, skill, and perseverance. Whether sewing the next fashion, sanding a rocking chair, or planting tomatoes in the garden, our hobbies connect us to the past and future, and allow us to enjoy the fruits of our labor doing something we love that helps us flourish.