Expressing yourself through creativity is one of the most essential things you can do as a human being.
Creativity is an integral part of who you are – without it, we would never have striven to master fire or create tools, let alone create culture or art.
Creativity got us to where we are today.
Being creative and creating something – whether drawing, painting, sketching, dancing, working with clay, embroidering, doing origami, even cooking or cleaning – can make you feel happier and more relaxed.
It can improve your problem solving and motor skills, enhance your observation, develop your hand-eye coordination as well as better your memory.
Research has proven time and again that expressing yourself creatively can help ease a wide range of ailments; from anxiety to depression to cancer.
Further reading on the benefits of creativity:
Have we forgotten how to have hobbies?
Many people that I meet don’t have hobbies – and they’re quite surprised when I ramble off a list of hobbies I like to do. Typically, this will be followed by a quip about how I must be very good at all those things and have a lot of free time to do them.
Nope and nope.
I think we’ve gotten so caught up in a culture of performance that we forget to do things simply because we enjoy them.
I don’t crochet because of some recommendation that says crocheting for an hour a week helps to reduce stress. I crochet because I like it.
I don’t schedule hobbies into my calendar, but rather go with whatever seems to draw me in at the time. I pick up my hobbies sporadically and when I feel like doing them – which includes not doing them at all sometimes.
My urge to crochet always kicks in around autumn when it starts getting cold and keeps going until it starts getting warm in spring again. I never feel like crocheting in summer because sitting under big woollen projects while I work on them gets really hot!
I also don’t crochet every winter; it’s usually one project at a time and sometimes one project will take me several winters to complete. But whether I’m crocheting or not, everyone enjoys the results of past crocheting winters in the form of several plump, cosy crocheted blankets!
And let me tell you: my crocheted blankets have oodles more character than their store-bought counterparts that they sit next to. The home-made ones are always picked first when there is a chill!
Some hobbies completely consume my interest and I’ll keep doing it for months on end, others I’ll do once and never repeat again.
The process of doing the hobby trumps having the finished product – it’s the gentle pursuit of a modest competence in something that I derive the most pleasure from.
We’re taking ourselves too seriously
We track everything in our lives from steps to calories to sleep. I think that we’ve become so obsessed with our everyday performance that we’ve forgotten how to let our hair down.
We live in an age of a public and performative existence that we constantly create through sharing and collecting likes and superficial interactions on social media – with very little real pleasure derived from it.
The expectations we set on ourselves are quite steep. We’ve put immense pressure on ourselves to perform highly and to succeed just in our daily life.
Remember: social media is not real. It’s a drug that gives you a temporary high.
When we fail to meet those hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals we plummet into a deep abyss of shame to wallow in our failure – and we’ve extended this negative thinking to our hobbies.
We’re so afraid to be bad at hobbies that we don’t have them anymore. If you’re not good at a hobby – and brave enough to share that with everyone – what does that say about you as a person?
Any kind of artistic pursuit – painting, drawing, sculpting – isn’t just for passing a few hours in creativity anymore, you should be working towards landing a gallery show!
Like to play the guitar to pass the time in the evenings; when’s your next gig? Oh, you like to take ballet classes for fun; when are you starring in the Nutcracker?
You claim to have jogging as a hobby but you’re not in training for the next city marathon, who even are you?!
We all need to unclench
The anxiety of failing or being bad at something is keeping many of us from enjoying creative pursuits for their own sake.
Rather than doing things because we enjoy them, we’ve turned them into a means to prove that we are the person we claim to be.
The point of having a hobby is to do something that you enjoy. More importantly, it’s a form of self-expression that allows you to process your thoughts and affirm your own experience – even just to yourself.
Hobbies are a chance for you to empty your brain of all the clutter.
But we’ve made our hobbies too serious and demand too much from ourselves, so we’re all missing out on the benefits.
Instead of having a hobby, we frequently opt for the easy thing to do: mindlessly scroll through a social media feed that’s been designed to extract maximum profitability out of us at any cost.
“Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it.
Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur.
The population of our country now seems divided between the semi-pro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.“In Praise of Mediocrity, Tim Wu, The New York Times
“But I’m not an artist, I can’t draw”
Well, you don’t stop playing a fun game, simply because you don’t win every time.
The key to benefiting from your hobbies is to just let go of any expectations and judgements and enjoy the process.
When you let your mind wander freely you’re actually allowing yourself to play. As children, we learn our basic life skills through play and our brains are hard-wired to learn by playing.
When you allow yourself to play, by having hobbies, you will find that your mood improves and you become more creative.
Since the purpose of doing something for enjoyment isn’t to produce professional-quality outcomes, you can let go of that judgement that defines things as “good enough” and just have fun – no matter what the end result looks like!
I’m giving you license to make mediocre art
I’ve always been a DIYer and curious about learning how to do things myself. But just because I know how to crochet a sweater or sew a skirt, doesn’t mean that I’m working on a new career as a seamstress.
I just prefer having something to tinker with, to keep my mind engaged. I like having a project to do.
When there is an absence of tinkering to pick up, I find that it’s too easy to slip into that routine of just watching telly every night. But that’s so boring!
I can feel the mummification creep into my being by just sitting in front of the tube night after night. It’s much more pleasurable to have hobbies and I feel more accomplished as a human being for having my little hobbies.
It is vital for you, as a human being, to create something from within and then let that come out into the world.
You’re not the next Mozart and that’s okay
The results of these hobbies don’t have to be great or even good – the point is to do them, not to become the next big success.
Many of us find hours each day for leisurely digital content consumption, why not set aside a small portion of that time for some knitting, doodling or wood-carving instead?
Now, I totally understand that with social media and platforms like Instagram, it’s easy to feel inferior when you compare your work to others (who are often doing these things professionally, by the way). But don’t be discouraged – your effort is enough. Hobbies are one of those easy-going activities where you get a medal just for participating.
It is not a waste of time to enjoy the meditative act of making collages or idling an afternoon away by sewing finger puppets. There are no set rules about how and when to engage in a hobby, you just do it!
And once you’ve started one project, you’ll notice that it’ll start calling to you from the corner where you set it down last and you’ll find yourself back at it regularly.