The Virtue of Industry

Times are stressful.  In many homes, there are unopened bills in the basket by the door.  Bank accounts are in overdraft.  Every week the charges at the grocery store are a little bit higher than the week before, and for less food.  Kids want new clothes and that latest video game, the car needs to be fixed and people’s jobs are draining the very life from them.

It is vital to take time out of the day to relax.  It rejuvenates you, improves your health, and calms your mind so that you can think more clearly.

When you have a million and one things to do, though, sometimes it’s difficult to force yourself to stop.  This is because stress releases two hormones into your body: adrenaline and cortisol. Excesses of these hormones can cause blood pressure spikes, food cravings that lead to weight gain, and heart disease, to name just a few of the pitfalls.

Many folks decide they need a hobby, and that hobby ends up either costing them money with nothing to show for it, or it kills off a few brain cells as the person sits there, passively entertained in an altered state in front of the television or a video game.

Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain. Alpha waves are brainwaves between 8 to 12 HZ. and are commonly associated with … brain states associated with suggestibility…Too much time spent in the low Alpha wave state caused by TV can cause unfocused daydreaming and inability to concentrate….Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive. (source)

Passivity actually opens up the door to your brain and allows you to be programmed – mass media uses this as a tool, by promoting ideas (like gun control, acceptance of the “big brother” philosophy, or the politically correct flavor of the month).  It inhibits your critical thinking skills and leaves your brain craving even more time in this low Alpha state.  This is the reason that some people sit blankly in front of the TV for hours every night, until they fall asleep on the couch and then get up to do it all again.

File:BenFranklinDuplessis.jpgBecause of this, it’s important to choose your spare time activities in a manner that enhances your brain function, instead of reducing it.  In a world where entertainment means playing on your Iphone or sharing photos on Facebook, opting for industry for your downtime can be an unusual choice.  But, stepping outside the path of the herd and choosing productive hobbies is a great way to relax.  What’s more, if your brain is engaged in an activity while you view a television program or movie, then you are not as susceptible to messages, either subliminal or blatant.  This means that you don’t actually have to keep the TV turned off at night – you just need to refrain from zoning out in front of it.

In 1726, 20 year old Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character.  He listed off the thirteen virtues that he  believed were important to living a good life, one of which was industry.  Franklin wrote of this characteristic, ” Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”  He believed that the pursuit of productivity would build character and help the practitioner to lead a more successful and moral life.  In his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”

We can absolutely apply Franklin’s philosophy of industriousness and productivity to our lives today.  When choosing leisure activities, consider opting for a productive hobby.

It should either…

  • Teach something
  • Create something
  • Repair something
  • Improve something

That leaves the door wide open to a broad range of choices!  If you tend to be an overachiever, then you can relax without the guilt of worrying about all the things that you “should” be doing instead of chilling out.


Think back to the days before television.  People worked hard all day long, producing food, cutting wood, cooking, hunting, building…it was a full time job to survive and thrive.  In the evenings, by candlelight, they could stop and put their feet up for a while.  Books were not widely available like they are now, so families passed the time by performing stitchery, carving, making furniture, mending things and creating items that made their lives more pleasant and beautiful. Sometimes a family member would read aloud, play an instrument or sing.  Time was of value and not to be wasted, and there was rarely money to spare on an “evening out”.

Productive hobbies not only improve your brain – they can save you money and better your chances for thriving in a post-SHTF world.  The ability to create or repair something will improve your standard of living and provide you with valuable skills for barter should an economic collapse occur.  Time spent teaching your children these skills will, in turn, pass down arts that would otherwise be lost to generations of the future, while helping your child become a more critical thinker and problem solver.

Following are some examples of productive hobbies.

  • Reading
  • Sewing clothing, curtains and soft furnishings 
  • Knitting and crocheting
  • Carving
  • Repairing broken items
  • Mending 
  • Darning socks
  • Building furniture
  • Making pottery
  • Cooking and baking
  • Writing
  • Drawing and creating art
  • Playing an Instrument
  • Singing
  • Archery
  • Making cards
  • Making jewelry
  • Fletching
  • Gunsmithing
  • Making ammo
  • Welding and soldering
  • Learning a language
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Playing a word, math or strategy game
  • Marksmanship
  • Exercise
  • Gardening
  • Preserving food
  • Practicing outdoor skills like hiking, camping and foraging

The list is endless but those are a few suggestions.  How do you unwind?  What do you like to do in your spare time?


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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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6 Comments  to  The Virtue of Industry

  1. Claymation says:

    I love to hunt and fish. We also forage for things like berries, apples, ramps (or as we call them wild leeks) etc.., We have a large veggie garden and I usually seed a medicinal plant patch every spring. We also keep house plants, many of which have medicinal uses. If I do watch TV, it is usually something educational, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how much I love old B&W Westerns and Science Fiction films. Oh yeah, I love listening to Old Time Radio. I developed a taste for many of these hobbies as a child because I found them fun, but now, let’s just say I love a hobby that furthers my frugality.

  2. David says:

    I grew up in a house with only 4 channels on the tv. We played outside. We used our imagination. We played baseball, basketball, golf, and football all in the yard or driveway. We explored the woods, hunted for blackberries, hunted squirrel, rabbit, and deer. We shot guns for fun, shot our bows. We also read books. I was in the band in high school and it is amazing how learning music makes a person more rounded.

    The tv, video games, facebook and texting kids of today have no interpersonal skills. They can’t read above an elementary level. They all claim they hate to read. All schools want to do is make it easier for them. If I was to have them read this article they would all have blank stares pasted to their faces and say they didn’t want to read it because it was stupid. I read an article today saying school was too hard for kids and we need to make it easier for them. How much easier can it get? Kids are not allowed to fail and that makes them woefully unprepared for the real world. Read any comment section of a mainstream media story. They don’t know the difference between lose and loose, there their and they’re, your and you’re, to too and two. Simple grammar and spelling are not taught. Simple math confounds them. Watching a clerk make change w/o a computer is like watching a dog chase it’s tail. If it wasn’t so futile it would be funny. You can’t use “big” words around them. They have no idea what you are saying and instead of looking up a word they don’t know or using context clues to figure it out they look at you and say “huh?”.

    They expect everything to be handed to them. They do not value hard work. They come in for a job interview and they expect to start at a high salary and get raises every time they don’t screw up. I say don’t screw up because they don’t do anything outside the job description and think just doing their job, not even above average, means they are ready for management. They don’t know how to function w/o their phone. You tell them you can’t use it at work. Does not matter. You give them verbal warnings, written warnings, final notice and then when you are walking them out the door they blame you, no personal responsibility.

    If the SHTF this crew will be screwed. They don’t know the definition of self reliance. Be warned, these will be the first to loot from others more prepared then they are because they “deserve” it. I was speaking to a family member who just announced he and his wife were going to have their third child. I asked how he was going to provide for this child seeing as he could not provide for the previous two w/o welfare, medical card and food stamps. He said, “I’m not worried, the government will take care of it.”

    • Bonnie says:

      You’re right about all the mistakes using homonyms. They bug the fire out of me, and make the text hard to read. But I do have one small quibble: You missed its and it’s. It’s is a contraction of it is; its is the possessive.

      AS for today’s kids, whose fault is it? I taught my daughter to knit and crochet; she covers her bed in her own afghans and quilts and decorates with her own cross-stitched pictures. Just unplug the TV, head for the library, and spend some quality time together.

  3. Roger says:

    The best thing on TV is the off button. Switch it off and get rid of it. It will make your children lazy. To a degree the Internet is the same. If they have a school project take them( or if old enough send them) to the library to research it. We home school our boys and we use the library extensively because it makes children think for themselves. The first thing they find is that a lot of stuff on the net is just plain wrong so it is well worth cross referencing.
    There is also, in libraries in Wales anyhow, a vast array of books on hobbies and past times. Because there is quite a large back to the land movement we also find a lot of self sufficiency books. But no matter where you live libraries tend to reflect the books requested by the members, so keep asking(formal requests) and you shall receive. As for hobbies we are blessed because I make my living from mine! As well as small holding and coppice work I make Welsh stick chairs( somewhat like windsors) and spoons but I also do metalwork and forging. We also have a stall at the local market where my wife sells artisan breads, jams, chutneys and preserves. It is where our children learnt how to count using money and how to calculate a profit(or loss!).
    I would say it is idyllic but in reality it is hard work, but we are debt free and beholden to no one and that is peace of mind that no amount of fancy gadgets can buy.
    I would also like to say we really enjoy your blog and you are not alone in your aspirations.

  4. Drover says:

    While certainly not all encompassing, you have developed a good list! My preference would be to label the list skills rather than productive hobbies, as hobbies are done just for pleasure. Skills give more than pleasure.

    Before WWII, most men and women would have had the skills on your hobby list. Today, only 60+yrs later, the value of skill as well as living a life of thrift and economy is lost. I have a bit of a “reputation” among those that I come in contact with on a regular basis. They do not approve of our frugal measures, that are not extreme by any stretch of the imagination, that we have been doing for 30+ years. I stand amazed as many disapprove even when they admit to financial difficulties.

    My husband and I have a large skill base and have taken great pleasure is using our skills to reduce our costs. Our now adult children also have many of these skills, and are even teaching their children them. My husband can make or repair just about anything. This is not an exaggeration due his educational/trade background. He is wonderful. I have a large skill base as well that includes what used to be called the womanly arts, such as mending/darning, sewing, knitting, embroidery, cooking/baking from scratch, animal husbandry (both of us), gardening, canning, and basic home medical care. I am an artist-I teach small numbers of students privately, but only to church members–I wanted it pleasurable, not a job. I play a musical instrument with a couple of local groups.

    It took my husband and I a long time to develop these skills. It took time, effort, and, unfortunately, money. It is a factor that most people forget. While some skills have smaller learning curve than others, a skill worthy of learning has a challenging upward climb.

    Money for skills cannot be ignored. Sometimes a teacher is needed. Supplies are needed and “cheap” doesn’t always work. One needs the right tool for the right job.

    We eliminated television over ten years ago, and stopped magazines and newspapers. We have the internet, but alas, it is absolutely necessary. Even the government requires online payments. We live frugally. We make all of our children’s/grand children’s birthday and Christmas gifts. The list of gift recipients is long.

    What do we do for pleasure and enjoyment? In the evenings we may read, We may work on a skill if we are behind schedule–depending on the gift we are working on, or we might play a board game. We might search the internet together to find information concerning a project/plan we are working on.

    If family is over, we might have a hymn sing, a popular activity. We play board games-we have selected games for large or small number of player, or if it is a rather large family gathering and good weather, outdoor games.

    We do not take vacations in the sense that most people define a vacation. For us, once a year we travel to the seaside in March or April to spend the day at the beach. We go no matter the weather, and have sat on the beach with hats, gloves, warms winter coats, and plenty of blankets! It still is fun! We have a tailgate picnic, sit and watch the tides coming in–or out, beach comb, play in the sand with the grand kids if they come that year, take pictures, fill my sketchbook, hubby may take a short nap, and then we go home happy and rested. I would love to say that it was a free vacation, but it costs in gasoline and tolls. It is an inexpensive vacation.

    An article worth reading about making and creating:

  5. Denise says:

    I’m 23 and have found I’m more aware of what’s going on in the world than many of my peers. I’ve always been an outcast and kept to myself. To this day I only have a few close friends and we’re all miles away from each other leading separate lives. It doesn’t bother me as much now but. I turned to crafting to fill the void of loneliness. I love making jewelry, creating my own decorations, drawing, painting writing, and collaging. When I was younger my dad would take my sister and I fishing. My favorite presents during the holidays were bead sets, latch hook sets, and a pair of ice skates I got when I was 8. I’d play with the electronic toys until I got bored of them but, always loved having something new to create or a new book to read. Robotic dogs and furbys got boring after a while. I do however love that I can tune out the tv and access alternative news, underground music, and reach many people on Facebook through posting about current events on the internet.

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