Instant joy vs. earned happiness

Instant entertainment is just the push of a button away, whether it’s Netflix, YouTube, or Playstation. They all have something in common. They give us immediate joy and fun. We don’t have to do anything to get it except turn on an exciting series or pop in that new game.

Yet, I always notice, especially over the days off between the years: This media is like fast food. The more I consume, the worse I feel afterward. Not necessarily physically, but because I notice how quickly time has flown by. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a relaxing movie night with friends or my wife. But as soon as I overdo it, entertainment systems turn into pure time thieves.

Creative work, on the other hand, feels different. Before starting on a new illustration, whether for clients or myself, resistance always gets in the way first. Sometimes in the form of an annoying little stone in the shoe and sometimes in the form of a massive, fire-breathing monster.

But no matter how big the resistance seems, it vanishes the moment I start. That doesn’t mean that only happiness kicks in from this point on. Frustration and panic are often just as much a part of the creative process as a pleasant and relieving “aha” moment when I’ve conjured up a good idea or a beautiful image composition. Pure joy during creation is rare and comes in waves. However, when one catches us, carries us along, and takes us to new heights, the feeling is almost certainly far more fulfilling than any Instagram reel or video game.