Hobbies Are Rich in Psychic Rewards
培養嗜好 提升工作表現
Published: December 2, 200

Q. Between work and family, you have little time or energy left for hobbies. Without them, though, life feels mundane. What can you do about it?

A. Make time for them because those moments can change your mood and your mind-set.

When people do things that make them feel good, like a hobby, it activates an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens that controls how we feel about life, said Dr. S. Ausim Azizi, chairman of the department of neurology at Temple University’s School of Medicine in Philadelphia who studies brain activity and cell signaling. Activities you enjoy also stimulate the brain’s septal zone – its “feel good” area – and that makes you feel happy, said Dr. Azizi.

Q. Are hobbies good for you?

A. Yes, and in many ways. Hobbies can enhance your creativity, help you think more clearly and sharpen your focus, said Carol Kauffman, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School. “When you’re really engaged in a hobby you love, you lose your sense of time and enter what’s called a flow state, and that restores your mind and energy,” she said. In a flow state, you are submerged in an experience, requiring a high level of concentration. Research shows strong correlations between flow states and peak performance, she said.

Being in that heightened state of concentration raises the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain that keep you focused and interested in what you’re doing and that energize you, said Dr. Gabriela Corá, a psychiatrist who is managing partner of the Florida Neuroscience Center and president of Executive Health and Wealth Institute, an executive coaching firm in Miami.

“Making time for enjoyable activities stimulates parts of the brain associated with creative and positive thinking. You become emotionally and intellectually more motivated,” she said.

Hobbies also enhance self-esteem and self-confidence, said Michelle P. Maidenberg, a psychotherapist and business coach in New York. “When people rely only on their role at work to foster self-esteem, that alone cannot typically fulfill their needs,” she said.

Q. Can a hobby make you better at your job?

A. Yes, because doing something you enjoy can help you think more creatively and give you confidence. Ms. Kauffman said a hobby could even help prepare you for a difficult meeting, making you more sure of yourself and energetic. “Let’s say you are passionate about opera. Google your favorite opera piece and listen for five or six minutes,” she said. “That positive emotion builds your cognitive and social skills. If you follow your bliss for a little while, it really gives you a surge of energy.”

Challenging hobbies may inspire ideas that will help you at work – leading, for example, to a new approach to making presentations, solving problems. “Any time you take a break from routine, you develop new ways of thinking,” said Gail McMeekin, a psychotherapist and owner of Creative Success, a career coaching company in Boston.

Q. How can you tell if your hobby is something you should pursue professionally?

A. The tipping point is reached when you are far more interested in your hobby than your job and when work feels like a waste of time, Ms. McMeekin said.
答: 麥米金說,關鍵點在你對業餘嗜好的興趣遠大於工作時,以及覺得工作是浪費時間之際。

“You have to do some market research first and make sure you could earn a living doing your hobby. You also take the risk that making your hobby your career will take all the fun out of it,” she said.
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