A friend recently shared a meme that said when guys reach a certain age, they either become obsessed with World War II history or get into smoking various meats. I found it amusing because I’ve reached that certain age, and although I don’t smoke meat, I have started making charcuterie. And it tastes really good.

I won’t say I’m obsessed with it, but I do take my time choosing the meat and I have a section of my fridge dedicated to the curing process. I also watch a lot of videos and read articles to get new ideas.

Making charcuterie is my latest hobby, but it’s not my only one. I started collecting books about 25 years ago and have compiled a nice collection that spans the classics, art, modern classics, and even some that are signed by the authors.

When my wife and I got married and started traveling together, I bought a shot glass in each city we visited. She did the same with mugs. Our kids ended up doing the same with key chains. We’ve accumulated pleasant reminders of the places we’ve been. As I started collecting, I became aware of the vast range of the shapes, designs, and styles of shot glasses. Some of my favorites are glass miniatures of a baseball, a semi-circle, and a boot for Jameson whiskey.

A recent study by Blueprint, a subscription service for online creative learning, found that 75% of Americans have creative hobbies. Some of the more popular ones include painting, knitting, baking, making music, journaling, and brewing beer. Some experts say that the time spent on a hobby can have the same calming effect as meditation or doing yoga. Hobbies are also said to make people more creative, happy, productive, and empathic, and depending on the hobby, lessen anxiety, depression, and dementia, in addition to providing other benefits.

I believe this to be true. Whether I’m immersed in making charcuterie or scanning through the titles in my book collection to choose the one I want to read next, I feel a sense of peace. As someone who suffers from hypertension, I need the balance that a hobby brings to my life.

The Blueprint study also found that 79% of hobbyists “love the process of creating something from scratch,” 88% agree that successfully finishing a creative project brings them joy, and 75% say they make mistakes while doing their hobby, but it doesn’t lessen their enjoyment. I agree with the 77% of hobbyists who say they would rather give up their Netflix subscription than their hobby.

Just in case anyone is wondering if watching TV can be considered a hobby — a question that’s frequently debated online due to the fact that it doesn’t require the person to actually do anything — the answer is yes, according to hobbyask.com. “Watching television by definition is a hobby that can be used for good if you’re educating yourself,” the site says.

Brett Martin is a guest columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.

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