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Why you should cultivate your inner dabbler

When I was a teenager, I got the impression that dilettante was (almost) a dirty word. It was definitely an insult. A dilettante connoted a person who wasted time, who wasn’t serious, who was probably superficial. If you loved something, you would study it with focused attention, and dedicate your time to it, not fritter away the hours doing something that would never go anywhere.

The world has changed since I was 17, and so have my feelings about being someone who might be considered a dilettante. Because the truth is, there are few things that I merely dabble in. Horror films, watercolor painting and baking are all things that I enjoy, but haven’t gotten more skilled or knowledgeable about any of them over the past decade.

I simply enjoy doing them — whether it’s watching horror movies, sitting at the beach and trying to capture the sunset with paint, or making an apple pie. I don’t really care about making the complicated foods I see on “Great British Baking Show” nor do I want to travel to a horror movie expo.

Embrace a laissez-faire (about some things)

There are other things that fall into this category.

So: I bowl, but I’m not a bowler.

I am, with some of my interests, simply a dabbler, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I don’t need to get better at these things like I hope to do with my gardening and photography — two hobbies I’m dedicated to more seriously.

But: I garden, and I’m also a gardener.

The writer behind the Brooklyn Bread blog has also found herself enjoying a laissez-faire attitude toward some hobbies:

My dabbling, I have come to realize, is responsible for a great deal of the ‘discretionary joy’ in my life. I’m not talking about abandoned hobbies and unfinished projects, though I have certainly had my share of those.

Im talking about pursuing things that I will never be highly accomplished at, but that I continue to do anyway for the simple reason that they make me happy.

This idea really resonates with me. In our Instagram-perfection world, just doing something because you like to do it seems like you’re getting away with something, doesn’t it? But it stands to reason that this way of being is a healthy one. If hobbies are good for us, and if daydreaming is too, it makes sense that a chill hobby would be a great way to relax.

It’s also freeing to do stuff with no great expectations because it’s wonderful to just enjoy the present moment, which is the very definition of mindfulness.

“Discretionary joy should be just that — discretionary. If I win, great, if I don’t, it doesn’t matter. Non importa! Because I have actually already won where it does matter: in the moment,” writes the Brooklyn Bread blogger.

What if we all embraced our inner dilettante (or dabbler, if you prefer)? I think we all might be more relaxed, and more present.

Sounds like a solid life hack to me.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Why you should cultivate your inner dabbler

An essay encourages dilettante or dabbling, and I couldn’t agree more.

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