Giving Up on the Hobby and Embracing the Lifestyle

Sometimes, when the lights are dim, everyone else is asleep, and we’re staring at a computer screen again, we’re hit by that familiar feeling of sadness mixed with expectation: the desire to create a better life for ourselves. This feeling however is fleeting, and often when morning comes and the daily routine starts, we forget about it until the next forlorn night.

We want to be more creative. Why wouldn’t we, it’s a human necessity. Before we had any sort of civilization we were scratching pictures on cave walls. The benefits of daily creativity are numerous, and discussed at length in other articles I’ve written. But today I want to focus on how we go about incorporating it into our lives, so that it doesn’t just remain a late night longing.

At the heart of the matter, is the difference between a creative hobby and a creative lifestyle. Allow me to explain. Filmmaking, painting, that novel you’re working on, they are all hobbies (I use this term in a broad sense). Each of them stands on their own as a singular activity. They can be done daily, weekly, or even yearly, but they are defined by the constraints of the medium, not by their regularity. Each of them however, also forms a facet of an overall creative lifestyle. Sometimes one hobbie constitutes the entirety of the lifestyle (e.g. you write poetry every single day), but other times many different hobbies will each be one piece of the larger lifestyle (e.g. you play music with a band on the weekends, you try and write two nights a week, and every few months you make a movie with your friends).

Let me clarify with an analogy. My father taught me many sports: kayaking, running, skiing, but the most important thing he taught me, non-explicitly, was the creation of an active lifestyle. I no longer have access to rivers for kayaking or mountains for skiing, but as the hobbies faded, the lifestyle remained. I’ve managed to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle, not through a single sport, but through the desire to always be active, in whatever form that takes.

Creativity works in the same way. Creative hobbies can come and go, depending on our age, our friends, where we live, etc. But a creative lifestyle will persist and mold to the circumstances.

Embracing the lifestyle mindset is important for a number of reasons. As I mentioned before, we often fail to actualize our creative desires because we think just in terms of a specific activity. Thus, when we grow tired or are unable to pursue a certain hobby, we simply stop creating altogether. A creative lifestyle also prizes slow steady progress over short spurts of productivity, thereby yielding better results. For example, if you go to any gym after winter vacation, you will often see the New Year’s resolution types who want to lose twenty pounds in the next six months. Most will fail because they have put no thought into the process of achieving their goal, other than “going to the gym”. Even if it happens that they do actually achieve this goal, then what? Because they’ve reached a result, rather than form a lifestyle, they often gain the weight back, and fail to achieve anything meaningful. By focusing instead on building a lifestyle, one can start small, and form habits that far outlast those who simply want quick results.

At the end of the day, the goal is to be a more healthy, fulfilled person. It’s only by forming a sustainable, creative lifestyle, that we can ensure that we will be the ones living the life we want, rather than spending our late nights imagining it.