By Josh Rueff on Apr 30, 2013
Hobbies are vital to the human experience. Just as clothing is a form of communication and the things we acquire give glimpses of our inward character, hobbies are something of an extension of our personalities.
Minimalism has become a very important part of my life, as it is for most people who give it a try. As I shape my life around the concept “less is more”, I find more and more areas that benefit from this ideology. The hobbies I enjoy are the most recent areas of my life to be revitalized by the principles of minimalism (although there are some areas I still refuse to reformat, like the tackle-box I’ve owned since I was 7 – full of useless but memory-packed gear).
During the process of minimizing, I got to thinking about the subtle relationship between hobbies and minimalist living – What makes a hobby minimalist? Why are minimalist hobbies better than normal hobbies? Where can I find the most minimalist hobbies?
Above all, the hobby should be minimal in 3 ways:
1. Minimal in the amount of equipment or gear needed.
2. Minimal time allotment.
3. Minimal expenditures.
The Top 100 Minimalist Hobbies
Although many of these hobbies can be as complex and expensive as you want them to be, they all start out simple, frugal, and time-friendly. Keeping in mind the 3 rules mentioned above, I’ve constructed this list of simple, inexpensive, time-friendly, minimalist hobbies:
2. Writing: You don’t need anything to write something short in your head. Pen and paper is very cheap, and who knows, you may become the next Hemingway! Writing can be relaxing, exhilarating, furious, or serene. You can write for your own personal benefit, write to help others, or even do both. There’s a 101 different ways to write, and they’re all great. Find what works best for you and do it! Read “10 Ways Hemingway Was a Minimalist Writer | And You Can be too.” or 10 Tactics in Minimalist Writing | On Minimalism to learn more about writing.
3. Playing Cards: There’s a lot of people – card sharks – that make their living playing Blackjack and Poker.
4. Writing Haikus: Short and sweet. And annoyingly vague unless you’re really good at it. I haven’t yet, but I started learning how to in this post “On Writing Haiku | How to Write Haiku | It’s History and Purpose.”
6. Drawing: Pencil and paper.
7. Running: Good for your health, and all you need is good shoes. Some people don’t even need those.
8. Shaving With a Straight Razor: Just like Grandaddy did. Slows you down, helps you focus on detail, eliminates razor burn (sometimes), and makes shaving an art.
9. Yoga: Enlightening and healthy – simplifying your thought activity.
10. Foraging: Picking blueberries, raspberries, apples, or whatever fruit is availible can be relaxing and enjoyable. If you really get into that sort of thing, research what plants in your back yard are edible and try them out!
11. Iambic Pentameter: Write like Shakespeare did.
12. Art Critiquing: Most art museums around me are free – I probably spend about half my time squinting at abstract art and the half studying ancient art (that I can really enjoy).
13. Flipping Websites: A hobby that can bring in some profit!
14. Picking Locks: This hobby can come in handy in all sorts of situations, and it’s fun besides.
15. Song Writing: Write a song, then sell it. Or sing it to your wife if it’s not too awful.
16. Playing Guitar: You can find guitars for $50 on Craigslist, and learning to play is painful but rewarding, especially when you get good enough to compose your own music.
17. Mixed Martial Arts: Learning discipline, building your cardio, and staying fit is rarely a bad idea.
18. Playing Piano: Move over Mozart.
19. Bird Watching: Bread crumbs+Birds=Birdwatching. Simple. Effective. Don’t get pooed on.
20. Playing Bass: Primus owns the bass playing world and he’s clinically insane. Imagine what you could do!
21. Running a Marathon: Painful but rewarding, from what I hear that is – after 4.5 years of running at 0500 every the morning, I avoid it like the plague. Rowing is my favorite cardio.
22. Hunting: If you have a few guns lying around, you might as well use them for something good – surprise your wife with some quality game.
23. Horseback Riding: This is a hobby that is only minimalist if you have horses to begin with.
24. Archery: 1 bow and a few arrows is all you need.
25. Setting Guinness World Records: I like to come up with world records no one’s thought of yet, like “the world’s longest staring contest with an orange juice carton”, or something dumb like that. Actually setting the record and getting it recorded would be semi impressive. Might even be fun.
26. Making Homemade Lures: One of my favorite hobbies ever.
27. Meditating: Steve Jobs style – Zen or go home they say (or do they…) Meditation is probably the most minimalist hobby on this list. More on meditation.
28: Bar Fighting: Dumb. But cheap, as long as you stay sober!
29. Playing Violin: Classy, serene, melodic, minimalist.
30. Cage Fighting: One of the best ways to spend a weekend, whether you’re watching or competing.
31. Whittling: Stick and knife. And a pipe for good measure. Whittling lures is one of my favorite pastimes.
32. Climbing Trees: Juvenile. Immature. Still fun.
33. Playing Ukelele: Aloha?
34. Gardening: Throw some seeds on the dirt and voila. Does Zen Gardening count?
35. Aquaponics Gardening: The modern version of aquaponics is fun, but the Mayan “floating gardens” method is more minimalist.
36. Fishkeeping: It’s fun to watch the behavior of different breeds of fish, and the social structure they create.
37. Hydroponics Gardening: Kind of like aquaponics but less natural.
38. Street Performing: Like attention and want a little extra cash – give it go!
39. Performing in a Garage Band: Some of the most famous bands started out in a garage. Could be you, who knows?
40. Singing: In the rain… And in general. Apparently you can learn to sing. True story.
41. Frog Hunting: Cajun frog legs taste like chicken – I’ve never heard a worse lie, they taste like fish mixed with chicken – which is a disgusting combo by the way. Maybe it wasn’t cooked right… Spear hunting for just about anything is fun – frog hunting is no exception.
42. Bug-Collecting: Johnny Depp collects bugs, but that’s not overly surprising I suppose.
43: Body Building: Can be done without the gym – I’m setting out to prove that. Here’s my first home workout.
44. Martial Arts: Stop watching Kung Fu and DO IT.
45. Knife Throwing: Very useful if you’re a ninja.
46. BBQ: You need to eat anyway – There’s not much better than the smell of charred meat as you enjoy the great outdoors.
47. Cultivating a Fishing Pond: This can be 4 hobbies combined into one: Fishkeeping, frog hunting, swimming, and fishing.
48. Snorkeling: If you live near the ocean like I don’t, all you need is a snorkel and swimming goggles.
49. Trapping: Trapping is an ancient art now reserved for mountain men and survivalists, but it’s something I like to try my hand at from time to time.
50. Blogging: Is one of the best ways to learn and share what you learn. It’s great for many other things as well, and if you’re good enough, you can even make some money blogging for businesses or other organizations. More on blogging.
51. Woodworking: I’ve never done this (not well anyway), but I’m pretty sure the tools you need to start out with are pretty minimal.
52. Truffle Hunting: These are delicious and expensive – According to the National Truffle Hunting Society, the best truffle hunters traditionally used female pigs to track them down (truffles produce a scent that mimics a male pig sex hormone), but now dogs are replacing them because they’re more trainable and don’t eat the truffles.
53. Flag Football: The less intense version of football. Still fun though.
54. People Watching: You can’t get much more minimalist than people watching. Sure it sounds weird, but once you try it you’ll understand why this growing hobby is finally getting some recognition.
55. Worm Farming: This is particularly useful if you fish, and particularly useless if you don’t. My 5 minute worm farm on YouTube.
56. Ant Farming: Ants are amazing creatures, reminding us every day what it means to be diligent, and the importance of planning ahead. And it’s brilliant the way they cooperate and use teamwork. Observing the mystery of the ant colony can add an interesting philosophical dynamic to your life.
57. Making Mini Ecosystems: Is this playing God or imitating? (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery).
58. Data Visualizing: Do you use numbers to track your workouts, or your home budget? Use data visualizing tools on the internet to spice up that data and make it more interesting!
59. Dog Training: Teaching your dog useful commands like “out” and “lay down” are essential, and fun tricks like “play dead” or “headbutt” (I’m still working on this one) are fun to impress people with. If you have a guard dog, Schutzhund training is highly impressive and extremely functional. Sarge, my rottweiler doing 8 impressive tricks on Youtube – Speaks, plays dead and more!
60. Dog Sports: Weight pulling competitions, Disc dog, Flyball, Agility, Carting, Schutzhund, Coursing, Tracking, Obedience, Herding – the list goes on.My mountain dog and rottweiler playing on Youtube.
61. Racing: This hobby has many meanings: Foot racing, sprints, marathons, coursing (if you’re a dog fan – see above^)
62. Bottle-cap Collecting: El Anatsui, a Ghanian sculptor collects bottle caps and turns them into art – they’re actually kind of interesting.
63. Kite Building: Simple and fun; minimalist! If you’re on the aggressive side, google “kite fighting”.
64. Swimming: In your pool, or the pond, or the lake, a the creek. If you have access to the ocean I envy you.
65. Boxing: Watch Snatch or Fight Club and tell me you don’t want to box.
66. Football: Flag football’s big brother.
67. Morel Mushroom Hunting: Kind of like truffle hunting but for morel mushrooms – also delicious and expensive.
68. Basketball: A ball and a hoop. Minimalist sports are great.
69. Baseball: A bat and a ball – another minimalist sport!
70. Building Tiny Houses: Living minimalist in the most extreme sense.
71. Writing Poetry: Haikus are probably the most minimalist of the styles, but they’re kind of like abstract art.
72. Collecting Tattoos: They look cool, are painful, and they’re permanent. That sounded better in my head.
73. Breeding Exotic Fish: And sell them to your local pet store. Another money making hobby: score.
74. Raising a School of Piranha: Taking it to the next level..
75. Growing Mushrooms in the Basement: Not the kind you’re thinking of.
76. Raising Rabbits: Easy and delicious. Or just fun if you keep them as pets..
77. Wrestling Crocs: Dumb, redneck, and impressive.
78. Larping: I secretly wish I could do this without feeling like an idiot.
79. Painting: Not to brag, but my paintings look like Picasso’s. It’s a gift.
80. Playing the Stock Market: Good luck!
81. Curling: Eh?
82. Collecting World Currency: Just in case our Fiat currency system actually does collapse.
83. Collecting Comic Books: Hulk smash.
84. Collecting Cards: Pieces of cardboard with pictures glued to them are strangely valuable at times.
85. Pipe Smoking: “Deduction my dear Watson..mmyes..”
86. Target Shooting: I don’t think it’s possible for this to not be fun.
87. Photography: Score for another hobby that you can make money with!
88. Mentoring: If you have a skill, trade, or focus of knowledge and know people who want to learn from you, share the wealth! Help others better themselves.
89. Building a Tree-house: For your kids of course. Or if you don’t have kids, for your future kids…
90. Power Walking: What?! How did that get there?? Let’s call it hiking – get out into the wilderness, hike, climb, or walk slowly taking in your surroundings.
91. Conquering the Rubiks Cube: Not fun to me, but very impressive nonetheless.
92. Value Investing: Warren Buffet’s favorite pastime.
93. Watching Movies: I hesitated to put this one in here because we tend to waste too much time on television and other forms of media, but in moderation, movie watching is an enjoyable and sometimes even productive hobby.
94. Freelance Writing: This is how I pull in the bulk of my income – there’s nothing better than turning your favorite hobby into a profession.
95. Gaming for Money: A lot of people buy imaginary equipment for their imaginary selves. Sad but true!
96. Sudoku: Another hobby I’m not quite addicted to, but it is a nice sense of accomplishment to fill that little square with the right numbers.
97. Degree Collecting: Some people get a kick out of writing essay after essay to get scholarships and grants, and then they earn multiple degrees because they’re absolute lunatics. At least that’s the only logical explanation I can come up with.
98. Developing Your own Philosophy: This can be fun, and if you write a book on it you might get famous after you die!
99. Treasure Hunting: This is a dream hobby to me – I think finding an old pirate chest full of gold would be one of the most exciting and satisfying feelings imaginable. Some people consider walking around with a metal detector treasure hunting, and that’s all well and good – but it’s not what I’m referring to when I say treasure hunting. Yes, most professional treasure hunters have expensive gear and boats, but I think (hope) it’s possible to do it in a minimalist sort of way.
100. Playing Chess: The game of intellectuals; military strategy without the collateral damage. Speaking of awful movies… Arnold is actually hilarious in this video.