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Hobbies add light to your world, literally. Recent functional MRI tests used to detect small changes of blood flow in the brain found that certain areas “light up” when people partake in a hobby.

The 15-year research of Southern Illinois University Professor Howard E.A. Tinsley also found hobbies to be a holistic health infusion for people of all ages.

Psychologists believe this health boost is due to the added elements of relaxation and centering that hobbies can provide. If you’re feeling sluggish, down in the dumps or stressed, consider adding one of these fun and inspiring hobbies to your “to do” list.

Geocaching

This hobby is a modern spin on the good old-fashioned treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, by following GPS coordinates to a specific location. If you’re lucky enough to find the booty, you’ll need to replace your treasure with something of equal value and hide it again. Any GPS-capable device will do. You can view geocaches in your area by visiting Geocaching.com and entering your ZIP code to see what’s available.

Flash Mobbing

If you watch television at all, you have likely witnessed flash mobbing at its best. An average day at a train station, mall, airport or other popular public place takes an interesting turn as strangers, who seem oblivious to one another, suddenly break into song, choreography or a theatrical skit. Flash Mob America recently added good deeds to the list as the organization handed over a $10,000 check to a family in need while more than 1,000 people sprung into dance at the appointed hour to celebrate.

Genealogy

The growing popularity of Ancestry.com has given rise to a new generation of genealogy enthusiasts. Genealogy is like a living scrapbook that contains artifacts of your ancestors’ lives. The hobby offers the possibility of travel, scrapbooking, interviewing people and learning things about your ancestors never known before. Of course, in learning about your ancestors you will also get a better understanding of who you are by understanding where you come from.

Class Jumping

Class jumping, or sitting in on a class, is an excellent way to learn tidbits of interesting information without having to pay tuition. Most colleges and universities allow people to sit in on classes as an observer with professor permission. Professors have their own rules about this, but they usually include sitting in the back of the classroom and non-interaction. Consider planning ahead to obtain copies of several different college syllabuses from classes of interest. You could then flitter from class to class to fulfill your sense of curiosity or inspiration.

Charity Hobbies

Charity hobbies are an excellent way to give to yourself and others. VolunteerGuide.org contains an extensive list of potential hobbies. Additional hobbies to consider are taking an elderly person to lunch, anti-vandalism projects, collecting toys for underprivileged kids and walking dogs at local animal shelters. When you consider a charity hobby, think of something that you love to do and would love sharing. If you are a gardener, consider helping elderly people plant mini gardens or organizing a project to beautify poorer urban areas. If you love singing and playing music, why not entertain the children in children’s hospitals. The possibilities are endless.