If you’re fortunate, you can find your passion in your work, but it’s not always possible to monetize the things that you love to do. This is where hobbies come in.

Hobbies give you the opportunity to pursue your interests outside of work, family life and community responsibilities, whether or not these interests are tied to financial benefits, social recognition, or other extrinsic rewards.

Since a hobby can enrich your life in many ways and broaden your perspective about the world, it’s inaccurate to view it as merely a diversion from the ennui or stress of a daily routine. Instead, hobbies should be viewed as a way to experience more personal growth along the lines of the old saw, “the more you know, the more you can grow.”

In light of the view of hobbies as a channel to learn new things, accept more challenges, and build your character, here are three examples of hobbies can provide a deep sense of purpose and passion.

  1. History as a source of personal growth.

Many people love to study history because they’ve discovered that human nature hasn’t changed much, if at all, since the beginning of recorded history. A trader at an outdoor bazaar selling earthenware pots in ancient Mesopotamia has many of the same emotions as his modern counterpart in a boutique pottery store in New York City. Although their two civilizations may appear to only have superficial similarities–Mesopotamia, a nascent culture just discovering the wheel, New York, an ultra-modern one wrestling with the ramifications of self-driving cars on public roads—essential human needs, drives, emotions, motives and behaviors remain pretty much the same.

This commonality in human nature across different epochs, allows us to learn invaluable life lessons from the victories and defeats of prominent people from the past. These life lessons may even include practical instructions–for instance, although many of the fundamental aspects of the economy have changed in the United States since the 1700s, a modern person can still benefit from financial advice about frugality and wise investments of time and money that Benjamin Franklin generously shared in Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Today, history buffs can do more than simply study accounts of the past; they can now also invest in historical documents for sale, visit historical sites around the world, and share their derived wisdom from the lessons of history through books, lectures, and even public policy if they are politicians, military commanders, or corporate heads.

  1. Yoga as a path of mental and physical cultivation.

Many people gravitate toward yoga as a solution to a particular problem they might be having. For instance, they might experiment with it as a way to manage their stress and anxiety or as a way to overcome muscular stiffness and pain. However, as they experience increased mental focus and deep relaxation, it becomes their go-to resource for fitness and health.

If you’re curious about the benefits that yoga can provide, you can either find a class in your neighborhood to take lessons or buy a DVD or book and start practicing at home. One advantage of going to a class is that you’ll have an experienced teacher to guide you. He or she will notice how you’re performing your moves and provide gentle corrections. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you will derive far more benefits from your routines at home or even when you do yoga on the beach.

  1. Music as a road to mastery and social contribution.

While many people often start studying how to play a musical instrument, it’s not unusual for someone to become so good at it that it becomes more than a hobby. For example, someone who takes up learning how to play the guitar might attain a level of proficiency so they transition into associated activities.  For instance, they might begin teaching others how to master the fretboard, or even begin to accept performance gigs. Since music has such a broad appeal, it usually results in a skilled musician being drawn out of isolation to make some form of gregarious social contribution.

The Best Time to Start a Hobby

If you feel a strong urge to learn something new that would provide personal satisfaction and enrich your life in many other ways, now is always the best time to start a hobby. Winston Churchill, for example, despite his hectic political life and passion for writing, still found time to do oil paintings, and over a period of 50 years, painted 500 works of art, favoring an impressionistic style.