A hobby is something you do when you’re bored or have free time. Maybe you want to relax, be social with friends or kill time. In the U.S., 42 percent of adults say watching TV is their go-to leisure activity. Other popular hobbies include reading and getting on the internet.

Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, but the goal is the same — to fill up time and round out our lives.

If you want to pick up a hobby, consider an activity like:

  • Hiking
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Painting
  • Gardening

What’s great about hobbies is they can be both fun and practical. Do something you enjoy, like draw or bake, while also learning valuable skills you can use later in life.

If you learn to knit, you’ll discover patience and perseverance. Or if you decide to take up running, you’ll gain a crash course in willpower and endurance.

With hobbies, there is no push to be the best. It’s all about having a good time and enjoying yourself.

The Difference Between Hobbies and Passions

At some point in life, you’ve likely been told to follow your passions. But what are they — the small activities we pick up in our spare minutes, or something more?

A passion is something — an activity, ideal, goal, etc. — you can’t do without. The work might be hard and stressful. There could be times when you want to give up. But in the end, the reward is worth the effort. You want to share your passions with others and talk about why it’s near-and-dear to your heart.

Do you have those nights where you lie in bed, unable to sleep? Your mind keeps racing with thoughts. Maybe you have an idea for sheltering more homeless people in your community.

Perhaps you want to set foot in every country in the world. Or maybe you want to redefine how people experience Asian cuisine. These are passions, the great loves that define who you are.

Examples of passions include:

  • Volunteering to save sea turtles
  • Getting your body in peak shape
  • Perfecting the craft of jewelry making
  • Establishing an ’80s movies club
  • Biking across Central America

A hobby can become a passion. And similarly, a passion can become a hobby. The ultimate difference is that a passion is something you can’t live without while a hobby is just to fill your free time.

How to Develop Hobbies and Passions

If you don’t know what your hobbies or passions are, you’re not alone. Start by meeting new people and trying new things. If you want to find a hobby, join a group or class and don’t be picky about the activity. You might find you have a knack for something new. Try your hand at basket weaving or create a custom arrangement made with wildflowers.

To pursue a passion, find a cause that resonates with you. Maybe you feel the need to help others or solve the world’s problems. Go out of your comfort zone. Seek out controversy and think about what you could do to help.

If you deal with anxiety and depression, for example, you might join an organization dedicated to promoting more regulations in mental health care. If you’re worried about human impact on the environment, you could join a mission to help migrate baby sea turtles. The more you participate in passions, the more you will learn about yourself and your role in the world.

The Benefits of Hobbies and Passions

Beyond filling your free time, there are plenty of benefits to engaging in hobbies and passions. Both allow you to develop essential traits that can help you get into college, excel in your career, survive child-rearing and much more. You can have fun while also gaining critical skills like patience, confidence, and leadership.

Hobbies can be a great way to de-stress. You can enjoy productive activities like reading and swimming without any pressure or expectations.

Passions, on the other hand, are meant to be fulfilling — something you do to quiet your mind at night and sleep peacefully. A lucky few will be able to follow their passions and even make money. You can do what you love — whether it be walking dogs, designing t-shirts or photographing weddings — while earning a living.