I was speaking recently with a friend and we got to talking about hobbies, things that we do purely for our own enjoyment and pleasure. Now, this friend likes to indulge in his artistic side but he confessed that he found he was not getting the enjoyment he had expected from his hobby. After we explored possible reasons for this for a while he wondered whether it was even worth his while even making art if nobody gets to see it or if they do get to see it but make no comment. We explored this a little further and he discovered that he would much rather receive a negative or even derogatory comment about his art than be met with indifference or no reaction at all.
Quite an interesting perspective, given that the art was intended by him to be his hobby, something he confirmed several times – “Yes, I do this for myself, it’s my hobby”.
Was he really doing this for himself, or for others?
Certainly his disappointment that few people got to see his art, and that of those who did see it even fewer passed any sort of comment at all, seemed to suggest that what was important to him was not the process or creating the art nor the resultant art itself; it turned out that what was important to him was making people react to what he had created.
Not that there is anything wrong with wanting that at all; far from it as it is a position which has been adopted by countless artists throughout history, creating art with the sole intention of generating some sort of reaction from others in response. But it turned out what was important was for my friend to realise that his enjoyment came from people’s reactions to the art, not from the art itself. Once he realised that, he was able to tailor his hobby accordingly by exploring ways in which he could get his art to more people and thus gain more reactions. And having done so, he felt so much happier and found his hobby to be much more fulfilling.
I wonder if you can relate to that? I know I can think of a few times myself. You find that you are not getting the satisfaction you expected when you are doing something, but you are not sure why. When we find ourselves in that sort of situation, it can be illuminating to take a step back and ask ourselves why we are doing it, who are we actually doing it for? Are you doing it because you want to simply for the fun and enjoyment you get from it, or are you really doing it perhaps to impress others? And if so, is that a healthy reason?
While it can be beneficial to create art with the desire to provoke reactions in others, would it be healthy to, perhaps, buy a new car in order to impress others? Even if we ourselves were happy with our existing car and may not be able to quite afford the new one anyway? That happened to some friends of mine who felt they had to keep upgrading their car to impress others – only they couldn’t really afford to do it and (here’s the kicker) nobody really paid attention to their car purchases anyway! Once they realised this and stuck with their car for much longer, they started to feel a bit happier, a bit less stressed, and saved themselves a lot of money in the process!
Next time you find yourself about to undertake a new course of action, or perhaps find yourself not enjoying something as much as you’d hoped, then as well as exploring whether you want to do what you are about to do, I would invite you to explore who you are actually doing it for – that can give you a massive insight into whether it makes sense for you to do it at all, and can help you find even better ways of making it even more enjoyable and beneficial to you directly.