One of my biggest addictions is sitting watching movies over and over again. I’ll justify it by saying I’ll just watch while I’m eating breakfast or lunch, and before you know it, I’ve seen the movie Fast Five 30 plus times.
This type of mindless consumption is very addictive because it allows us to turn our brain off from the world and become hypnotized by the images on screen. The world can be a depressing place with paying bills and having to meet deadlines. When we become addicted to consuming stuff it provides a temporary release from the weight of the world.
Being addicted to consuming is a very real addiction. There’s a reason that game companies are making modern games with hundreds of meaningless achievements. It gets you addicted faster. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all set up this way as well giving you a small dopamine release every time you get a like or retweet.
The problem with being addicted to consumption is twofold:
- It takes time away from creating
- It’s being passive and not as fulfilling as creating
So the question is how does one go from being addicted to consuming the creations of others to being a creator themselves?
Use Your Addiction At First
The easiest way to cut down on consuming stuff and to start creating more is to use your consumption to fuel your creations.
Start thinking about consuming things for a specific purpose.
For instance, let’s say you were going to read a book. Go ahead and read the book, then create a review on said book.
What this does is gets you in the mindset of starting to consume stuff with a purpose. Once you have internalized this mindset, it’s a lot easier to focus all of your day on creating.
I’ve tried to go cold turkey on consuming stuff and I find that I feel like shit or just can’t do it. With the level of access I have to the internet, it’s only a small click on my phone away to jump on twitter and see what’s poppin off with the shitlords.
An example of how I used this method was when I reviewed 30 days of discipline. I knew that I wanted to get more discipline in my life and 30 Days of Discipline seemed like a good method to get it. But then I thought, why not document the whole process?
When I initially decided to buy the book it was for discipline purposes, but when I decided to review it on a large scale blog post, it turned into a way to create something and test seo at the same time.
If you know you’re going to be consuming something anyway, turn it into a project that lets you create something from your consumption.
Once you start doing this enough, you’ll find like I did that you will start to lose interest in consuming stuff. No longer will simple consumption get your brain firing those feel good chemicals anymore.
It will take some type of creation on your behalf to feel good again.
This is a good thing.
Eventually you’ll get to the point where you will start tipping the scales.
Shoot for something like 70 % creation and 30 % consumption of stuff.
Creation could be anything by the way. Writing, setting up websites, music, painting, whatever.
When I get to this level, I like to have breaks where my consumption is scattered through the day as an interrupt in between deep periods of creation.
This isn’t actually a bad thing and can be productive as long as you are able to break away from your consumption periods to return to creating. I referenced this in my productivity guide and after doing it for a few years, I conclude that it absolutely works.
Day of Action
Time to really push yourself.
To take it to the next level, schedule a “day of action” for yourself in which you spend the whole day creating stuff. I’ve read about people doing this by taking a modafinil and going into monk mode for a day.
Here’s how to make it even better, document the whole thing. Turn your day of full creation into a creative event in of itself.
I’m currently planning a day of action just to see the effectiveness and if I can actually pull it off. I’m not sure on when this will be or what exactly I’ll be doing just yet, but I have a few ideas I’m floating around.
Here’s how I’ll document it though:
- Write down the time of day and what activity I have planned.
- Document whether or not I complete the activity.
- Record my thoughts on doing the activities through the day.
- At the end of the day give my thoughts on everything and how it went.
One reason that I’m not creating more is that I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what people will think. I’m afraid the wrong people will read my work. I’m afraid that no one will read my work and it will be pointless.
The way I get over this is by starting out with a light meditation session to clear my mind. Then I “trust the process”.
When I focus on just working, and I trust that something will happen, it usually does.
This is helped by having a list of items to do and just crossing them off as I complete them. Having a list of items takes some of the fear away as it becomes just a line on a piece of paper.
- Have items on to do list ready to go
- 10 minute meditation session
- Push through work by trusting in the process
At the end of the day, creating is much harder than just consuming stuff. However, the rewards are much greater. In order to have a fulfilled life, I believe creating some type of art is mandatory.
There’s no better time than now to start creating.