I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life and what I want to do with it.
Deep, I know.
But I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of what motivates me, what brings lasting happiness, and what makes me feel successful in both my work and personal life.
As I thought about this, a light bulb turned on for me. I started to recognize a trend amongst people I consider to be truly happy and successful. I noticed the same trend in my own life during some of my best moments.
Here is what I realized:
Consumption vs. Creation
Throughout our entire lives, we are doing one of only two things. Either we are consuming, or we are creating.
We consume when we eat, watch tv, surf the web, read a book, or spend time on social media.
We create when we build a relationship, work on a business, cook, or write in a journal or on a blog.
My light bulb moment happened when I realized that happiness and success come when we spend most of our time in creation mode.
Well, for me, I think it’s partly rooted in spiritual principles. I believe that God is the Father of us all. He is the ultimate Creator. He created us. He created this beautiful Earth and all the amazing things that fill it. As our Father, He wants us to be happy and become like Him, realizing our full potential as creators.
But, even if you aren’t religious or spiritual, I think this still holds true. I’m betting the happiest times of your life came when you were creating something.
Was it when you got married or became a parent and created a new family? Was it when you sold the business that you gave your blood, sweat, and tears creating? Was it enjoying that perfect meal that either you or the chef meticulously created? Was it the memories that you created from that perfect vacation trip?
Creation adds value. Creation enriches. Creation enlivens. Creation is beautiful. Creation produces an attitude of abundance and a spirit of optimism. Creating is how you become successful and achieve happiness.
Spending your time creating is not easy. Most people don’t do it.
Most people won’t do it.
Consumption is easier. It often produces instant gratification. But it doesn’t last.
Think of everyone you know who isn’t as happy or wealthy or successful as they’d like to be. If you look closely at their lives, I’d be willing to bet it’s because they consume more than they create.
Creation is hard. It requires sacrifice.
Creating something worthwhile can take extreme effort over a long period of time. But that’s what makes it so satisfying. It requires the very best of you. That’s why those who create are rewarded financially, socially, and emotionally. The people who we most revere and consider successful are usually the greatest creators. Walt Disney. Steven Spielberg. The Beatles. Steve Jobs.
Just like many things in life, there is wisdom in balance. We can’t create 100% of the time, or else we will burn out. There are times we need to be consumers.
However, I think there are two types of consumption: 1) Good consumption and 2) Bad consumption.
What’s the difference?
Good consumption re-energizes and re-vitalizes. Good consumption enlightens and expands our thinking. It inspires us, and motivates us to act and to get back to creating.
Bad consumption dulls our senses and saps our energy. It limits our thinking and wastes our time.
Naturally, I have been thinking about examples of where various activities fall in the Creation/Good Consumption/Bad Consumption scale.
Here are some ideas:
- Relationship building
- Meditation/mindfulness/life reflection
- Goal setting/Planning
- Story telling
- Event planning/creation
- Business building
- Working on a side project or hobby
- Starting a family, being a father/mother
- Creating art or music
- Good books
- Inspiring and Educational TV/Film
- Healthy Food
- Scriptural Texts/Spiritual Things
- Educational blogs/writing
- Most TV/Movies
- Video games
- Social Media
- Surfing the web
- Junk Food
- Negative news
- Most magazines
Success and Happiness
I am determined to prioritize my life so that I spend the majority of my time creating. I feel strongly that this is what will bring success and lasting happiness. This will help me discover new passions and add the greatest value to others.
For me, I think the right ratio for how I should spend my time is something like 70% creation, 25% Good consumption, and <5% on bad consumption.
Making decisions about how we spend our time using this framework makes things easy.
Ask yourself, “Is what I’m planning to do going to create something beautiful?” If it is a consumption activity, ask, “Will it inspire me to be better and create more?”
If not, then you should probably do something else.
In some areas of my life, this will be a radical change for me. Most of us engage in bad consumption far more than we realize. I am convinced that this has been the biggest limiting factor preventing me from being my best self.
I want to be a creator. I want to inspire and build. I want to learn and improve. I want to add value and grow.
That is what brings happiness. That is what brings success. That is what brings peace.
I hope you will join me in the work of creation.
If you liked this post please click the “heart” button below and share it with friends. Also, I’ve loved reading the comments and email responses from many of you. Your ideas and thoughts on creation have been inspiring to me. Thanks!