Oscar Wilde once said, “Only boring people are ever bored.” As with so much of his work, this statement cuts right to heart of a dilemma many modern men face — what to do with their time when funds are limited.
If you only think inside the box of life experience you’ve already gained, you may be at something of a loss as to how best to answer this question.
However, when you view life as a constantly evolving exploration of the world, it opens up seemingly endless possibilities.
One thing to keep in mind, Gentlemen, is that no experience is wasted or wrong. What you must do is constantly challenge yourself to learn new things, improve existing skills, and, above all, engage as fully as possible with your world. When you take this approach, there will never be another boring moment.
As well, it’s part of the process that makes you a fascinating human being, a truly manly and complex individual that everyone will want to get to know.
1. Cooking and Grilling
Being able to feed yourself well is a basic part of self-sufficiency, guys. Moreover, when you learn how things go together, and how to create a perfect meal from scratch, you make yourself an asset in any hungry situation.
2. Homebrewing Beer
This is an adventure in chemistry and physics that will teach you how to craft a product you want through empirical experimentation — trial and error — and help you to explore new and creative techniques. It requires relatively few pieces of equipment, and the startup knowledge can be found for free. All you really need is time and some enthusiastic friends to play guinea pigs during the process of technique refinement.
3. Skiing and Snowboarding
If you want a way to become physically fit and improve your spatial reasoning skills, this is a great hobby. All it requires is snow, a little capital, and perseverance — the gear can be rented by the day. These winter sports will teach you how to judge distance accurately, understand the way your body moves through space, and how to make correct decisions on the fly.
This is a craft skill that will never go out of style. It teaches patience, and the direct relationship between cause and effect. Learning to work leather requires that you invest a little money and time, but beyond that the tools you need are inside your skull and at the ends of both your arms.
Mastering the techniques of a champion may take you the rest of your life, but learning the basics of strategy — observation, planning, judging the quality of an opponent’s skill — can be picked up relatively swiftly. Moreover, these are skills that you can apply to every life situation, and which will stand you in good stead in the realm of interpersonal interaction. Chess sets can be procured for relatively small sums, and technique guides are available in both print and online for free.
Similar to model construction, but with definitely real applications of physics and chemistry, this hobby will hone your critical thinking and problem solving skills to a killing point. What you learn through experimentation and research of fuel systems will stand you in good stead when solving problems in completely unrelated areas. Plus, nothing is more gratifying than creating something that works.
This is a hobby much like chess, in that it requires you to gain skill in planning, prediction, and observation of how human desires motivate human actions. You need not actively invest capital at first; simply watch the stock ticker, read the reports, and immerse yourself in the business of business.
You don’t have to be up to no good to acquire this skill. The tools are simple, but buying a practice lock from the hardware store is advised, since picking damages the tumbler mechanism of a lock. Being able to pick a lock works better than a coat hanger or credit card if you or another has accidentally locked themselves out of their car or home. It sharpens your fine motor skills and teaches you how to manipulate a complex mechanism you can’t directly study. Believe it or not, this sort of hobby actually enhances your cognitive abilities in other areas, such as abstract problem solving.
This is no sissy hobby, guys. With access to a range where you can rent gear and practice, this is a relatively inexpensive hobby. Buying your own armguard, bow and arrows works as well, and can be done relatively inexpensively for beginners. Archery teaches you focus and precision, all of which will stand you in good stead in a variety of pursuits.
Like American Pickers, you can spend a free hour or two every week browsing the flea markets and antique shops. With a bit of study about maker’s marks and unique features of the Real McCoy, you’ll learn to identify authentic antiques and treasures from cheap junk. You’ll also expand your knowledge of contextual history, which is never a bad thing and makes for great conversation.
12. Rock Sports
If you want the ultimate challenge of the Self, take up rock climbing, repelling, and other similar sports. While this hobby will require some investment of capital, because you must ensure your safety with proper gear and training, rock climbing teach you to actively evaluate your immediate environment, focus on details, and plan your moments. It’s always a rush to feel you’ve succeeded and to know every inch of the rock face you just climbed with every sense you possess.
13. Classic Car Restoration
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Restoring a classic piece of fine machinery is a labor of love, sweat, and research. You’ll learn how to source quality parts for your baby, and how to install them — from the body to the minutest internal components. It will require patience and a bit of money if you want to do it yourself, but another great, and often free way to experience this hobby is to work with someone who already does it.
14. Traditional Sports
Think you’re too old to engage in team sports? Think again. Whether your pleasure is rugby, soccer, baseball, basketball, American football or another team sport, adult recreational leagues exist in most places for most of these sports. Pick one and rediscover the value of teamwork and planning. As well, it’s a great way to be both social and physical once you’ve left college and are a part of the adult working world.
This is the art of human nature, of misdirection coupled with delight. Magic is a wonderful hobby that makes for great icebreaking tactics in new social situations, and also teaches you to see what others might miss or hope that you will miss.