Leadership

4 science-backed reasons people with hobbies are more successful

Warren Buffett walks through the exhibition floor prior to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 1, 2010
Warren Buffett walks through the exhibition floor prior to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 1, 2010

Most people know Warren Buffett as a legendary investor and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. But he's also a ukulele player.

His musical hobby has surprised many audiences. Buffett has played the ukulele on live television, in front of investors, and at charity events.

Being able to perform isn't just fun; it might also help Buffett in some scientifically proven ways. Studies shows that people with hobbies are less stressed, happier, and more creative. They may even live longer.

If you're interested in taking up a new hobby, here are some research-backed reasons to go for it.

1. Better work performance

Having a hobby outside of work could help you perform better 9-5. A study of 400 employees published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology finds marked differences between those who engage in creative hobbies and those who do not.

Having a creative hobby is associated with positive work-related traits, like creativity on projects and a better attitude on the job.

Other research shows that employees with hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and have a lower likelihood of burning out.

2. Reduced stress

Engaging in a mentally stimulating hobby reduces stress, according to research by Matthew Zawadzki, a health psychologist at the University of California, Merced.

Zawadzki's study shows that leisure activity can provide immediate stress relief, which has been shown to have numerous health and psychological benefits, like improved focus, happiness, and a longer life.

Another study comes to a similar conclusion. Research published in the National Library of Medicine shows that regular leisure activities helps a person manage negative feelings like stress.

"When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully." -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist

3. Improved physical health

Your hobby doesn't have to be physically demanding to correlate with better health.

A study conducted by several psychologists of about 1,400 people found that people who said they engaged in enjoyable leisure activities had lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index.

In other words, even low-movement hobbies like knitting, crafting, and guitar are correlated with better health.

4. Improved mood

The benefits of engaging in a hobby extend to hours, even days later. Zawadzki's study finds that people with hobbies continue to be happier and to experience lower levels of depression and negative feelings after practice ends.

"We're still talking about the short term, but there was a definite carryover effect later in the day," he says in a university publication. "If we start thinking about that beneficial carryover effect day after day, year after year, it starts to make sense how leisure can help improve health."

A separate study published in the The Society of Behavioral Medicine finds that that when people engage in a hobby, they show a lower heart rate, reduced stress, and more positive feelings.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that being completely absorbed in an activity, what he describes as "flow," is the secret of happiness.

"When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life," Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. He cites years of research to back up his claim.

So while knitting, painting, or taking up a new instrument might at first seem like an inefficient use of time, it's actually an investment in your overall well being, science shows.

And if Warren Buffett can make time to play the ukulele, you can too.