How Building a Collection can be Good for Mind and Spirit

Posted by martin.parnell |

The other day, I received a belated Christmas card from a cousin, in Australia. On the envelope was a very attractive Christmas-themed postage stamp. It reminded me of the stamp album that belonged to my Grandfather and was passed down to me when I was a schoolboy.

Unfortunately, it must have been mislaid during one of my many moves, as I no longer have it. The collecting of postage stamps is related to philately, which is the study of stamps and you may know someone who has, at some time collected stamps, as a hobby.

 I wondered if stamp collecting is still popular and whether or not the use of email and the diminishing of letter writing has affected this hobby. Well, according to, stamps are one of the most collected items. Others include: comic books, coins and currency, vinyl records, classic cars, trading cards, dolls and toys, wine, fine art and jewellery.

Which led me to think about how other hobbies may have been influenced by changing times. I know some of the toys my siblings and I played with, as children, would now be highly-valued. Many things have become collector’s items due to their increasing scarcity, others due to their novelty factor. I know people who collect various objects, from theatre programmes to beer mats, old cameras to thimbles snow globes to blue glass bottles. 

The only thing I now collect are the number bibs from the various races I have completed. Fortunately, these can be put into a ring binder and only take up a small amount of shelf space. Tom Hanks, however, collects typewriters and has written a book about them. In 2017, he said “I probably have 250 plus typewriters in my collection, I would say 90 percent of them are in perfect, working order.”

I was interested to read an article on theodysseyonline.comJune 2017, that gives reasons as to support collecting things as a pastime, entitled Why Collecting Things Is A Good Hobby,.  

“For centuries, collecting has been a favourite hobby for many. When describing the definition of collecting as a hobby it includes locating, acquiring, seeking, cataloguing, organizing, maintaining and storing objects that are important to the collector. Plus the ranges of items that can be collected are infinite. In addition, collecting things is a good hobby and is very beneficial academically.”

Other parts of the article go on to explain some reasoning behind this, for example:

 “Often writers and artists are inspired by certain objects, walks on the beach often correlate with collecting items such as shells or driftwood which can lead to the creation of works of art.

Collecting certain items requires sorting items into categories or groups. Prime examples are coins and stamps. Organizing and categorizing skills are useful in many areas of academics like research work, studying for exams and large work projects.

The collecting of certain items can make history fun and exciting and give you an appreciation for art as well as increasing a person’s knowledge of history, politics and geography.”

Also, you may have to actively go and search for the items you collect. It may mean you have to make contact with others in order to acquire certain items. There may be a group of enthusiasts who share the same hobby as you. I wonder what items you might collect and what is their appeal?

Do you know someone who collects objects that were once considered commonplace, everyday items? Which items that are everywhere today but could become collector’s items for future generations?

You may not even collect objects, perhaps your passion is gathering experiences, like tackling challenging hikes, running a series of races, visiting certain places.

Whether it’s building a collection or some other hobby, it’s good to have an interest outside of your regular, everyday experiences. It expands the mind and can, in certain circumstances, lead to meeting people and being proactive.

Whatever your hobby, I hope it gives you as much pleasure as stamp collecting obviously did for my Granddad.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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