Hobbies for Happiness (And the Risks of Mixing Business with Pleasure)

Ever imagined quitting your desk job to spend your days stitching and crafting by a log fire? Tread carefully, my friend, because turning your passion into a profession can be a tricky business.


When I tell people that I make my own clothes, I’m often met with: “You should sell them!” or “Why don’t you start your own business?”. My answer is simple – because if I did that, sewing would no longer be a hobby. And I’m a hobby-aholic: I love hobbies and I really love talking about them (I absolutely adore seeing people’s faces light up as they share what they love to do with their time).

There’s a lot of pressure to turn any interest or skill into an income stream, but maintaining a hobby for joy can be far more valuable than the potential dollar value. Hobbies are scientifically proven to make you happier. A 2023 study of people aged over 65 found that those with hobbies had improved health and life satisfaction. In another study, focused on the benefits of crochet, respondents stated that it made them feel calmer, happier and more useful. They also reported a significant improvement in their mood after crocheting.

Tabitha Carvan’s book, This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch, reveals the positive impacts of finding a passion and valuing leisure time as a woman and a mother. She states that women have historically been without a culture of leisure and play, and adds: “When you don’t make that [leisure] time a priority there are huge consequences, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.”

READ MORE: Stitch, Please! Dabbling With Embroidery and Creative Connections

Scientist Kerri Duncan derives great rewards from her hobbies and has no desire to become an expert. Her job requires focus and precision, so she enjoys being mediocre at her hobbies. “When I focus too much on getting better at something, it creates room for failure,” she says. “I don’t want to fail in my relaxation time – I just want to go with the flow and soak in the fun. No pressure, only carefree, uncomplicated enjoyment.”

Marian Bull, who turned her pottery hobby into a business, says that in a world where “traditional careers are crumbling and side hustles are fetishised”, it’s no surprise that many people are monetising their hobbies. However, she adds, “this risks turning hobbies into an illusion, a mirage of leisure that quickly turns to obligation”.

What was once fun becomes bound by the pressures of time, market value and trends. You may be your own boss, but the market decides what you’re worth and what you’ll make. If you do turn your hobby into a business (or if you already have), it’s important to find something else to do for leisure, whether that’s looking at photos of Benedict Cumberbatch or making something for yourself. Marian manages her hobby-turned-business by having “a segment of my work that I make just for myself, without concern for the market – or at least with an attempted lack of concern”.

So, if you can do it, I say go ahead and resist the temptation to achieve perfection. Make a wonky mug, fall off that surfboard and dance wildly for no other reason than the joy it brings.