Create vs. Consume
We live in a world designer for consumers. You can stream movies with the push of a button or get lost in Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest with only your smartphone on hand. Online classes are easy to find too. Maybe your preference is to binge watch “This Is Us” or “The Walking Dead”. You can start out innocently doing research on the Internet (for something you intend to create). The next thing you know, you’ve wandered off course and you’re watching the newest YouTube video or deciding to take another class before you try making something. If you have fallen into the welcoming rabbit hole of the Internet at one time or another, you are not alone!
Don’t get me wrong. Consumption is a necessary part of life. I, however, like many others, fall into the rabbit hole of the Internet or TV. Soon I’m sure I’ll waste away an afternoon watching a Hallmark Christmas movie or two. It’s normal to enjoy being entertained, but there is a limit to the enjoyment provided by consumption and a feeling of dissatisfaction that starts to grow in us when we choose not to create. And don’t even try to say that you’re not creative.
We All Create
Every human is a creator. You create ideas, meals, new products, music, families and so much more. If we didn’t create, we wouldn’t exist. The survival of mankind over the years is in no small part due to the creative problem-solving skills of our ancestors. Every day we use an endless number of items created by other humans. But you need to create to feel good about yourself. It’s when you lose a healthy balance between consuming and creating that you start to feel bad.
Cost of Consuming More Than You Create
If you look at society as a whole, it is easy to see the cost of lost creativity. After all, creativity is innovation and innovation is progress. Without innovation, we would not find new ways to produce food, generate power, cure diseases or explore the universe. But what is the price of consuming more than you create in your personal life?
When your balance between consuming and creating shifts toward consuming mode you start to feel like crap. You lose your energy and drive. Have you binge watched your favorite TV show in a while? It’s fun at first, but you usually feel like you need a nap afterward. This seems more than a little ironic since you’ve just spent the day sitting around. If you start to make a habit of binge-watching or endlessly crawling the Internet, you’ll start to feel like the life is being sucked out of you. You’ll start to feel older than your years and not in a good way. Why? Because humans need to create and produce to feel a sense of purpose and self-worth. We have a need to offer something to the world. And when you feel like you don’t have anything to offer the world you feel useless.
Why Do We Get Out of Balance?
If the cost of over consuming is a loss of confidence, a lack of purpose and the depressing feeling of hopelessness, how is it that we fall into this trap? Many of us start out trying to escape from the stress of daily life. But it requires no effort to consume, so it’s much easier to keep at it than it is to get moving and start creating something of our own. It’s also scary to create your own thing, even ideas because we are afraid of being judged or ridiculed. We’re afraid of making mistakes and of looking or feeling stupid. Sometimes, we’ve just plain forgotten how fun it can be to make things. The lack of confidence we feel from over-consuming makes us even more hesitant to put ourselves out there. So, we fall into a habit of consuming. But what are you missing out on?
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Benefits of Creating Create to Live
The American Journal Of Public Health published a review of the effects of engagement in creative activities. This article reports that increased creative activity results in a healthier body and a healthier mind. Study participants reported experience more positive emotions and fewer feelings of depression. They also reported improved “positive identity”, i.e. more self-confidence and less stress.
Creating will also help you to be a better problem solver, to improve your strengths and to improve your concentration. In addition, you will be a more interesting person. In other words, creating is the antidote to over consuming. So now you see the magic of shifting from consumer to creator, but how do you get there?
How To Find Your Creative Zone
Stop judging yourself. You know that voice in your head that tells you that you have to be good at everything? Silence it! Let yourself play and get messy. Do something for fun and forget about doing it perfectly.
Be childlike. I don’t mean throw temper tantrums. But do allow yourself to experience that magic and childlike wonder of making something new. Have fun. Whether you make brownies, a bookshelf or a quilt, do it for the fun of the experience.
Break-up your routine. Go somewhere new. Try something different. Open yourself to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Check out a museum that sparks your interest or inspires you. The purpose is to give yourself time away from all your usual activities to get new parts of your brain firing and to spark your curiosity.
Get your body moving. A body in motion spurs the mind and helps you to be a little more confident.
Just do it. Find one simple thing to try and do it. Find a friend to try it with if that will make it more fun. Start with just one little baby step and then put one foot in front of the other.
Announce it. Tell a few people what you are going to make. It will help to keep you motivated when you start to have second thoughts and begin to make those all too familiar excuses that keep you from putting in the work.
Announce it again. Share what you create. If you tried a new recipe, invite someone over to share it. Give some of your artwork to your family. Try selling something that you made. I know it’s scary, but sharing your talent with the world is pretty darn fulfilling.
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What’s Your Thing?
What if it’s been a long time since you made anything and you don’t know where to start? What if you don’t have a thing that you do, but wish you did? Don’t despair. This is actually a wonderful place to be! You get to become the great explorer. Try a few new things and see which ones make your heart sing. There are some wonderful classes on the Internet. Check out Skillshare to find a few. BUT, don’t just take a class, make something. Just watching a video without trying to do it is cheating and put you right back in the consumer role!
Finding Your Ideal Creation-to-Consumption Ratio
Tim Ferris has a great easy to read article about finding your personal balance between creating and consuming. His idea is to keep track of what you consume and/or create each day and to pay attention to the feelings that you get from those actions. I love this idea and I am going to give it a shot myself. Learn about it for yourself here.
Thanks for putting that idea out there Tim!
Get To It
It’s time to stop reading and start doing. I wish you the best in finding the things that you love to create!