Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.Tyler Durden, Fight Club
In my search for a life worth living I can point to a significant change in how I live.
Before I was almost exclusively a consumer. I bought and used things which kept my interest and distracted me from what was important in my life. I played games watched TV etc.
Even my self-help drive to get more stuff done I found my gorging because it was easier than acting upon those ideas. My consumer fetish is that of knowledge, wisdom, know-how.
I was and am still a bookworm. I love learning, and in today’s internet age means such a desire can be easily satisfied.
I was a consumer, and addict towards getting more. More know-how, more security, more stuff.
Yet the past few years have been marked by significant change. I no longer habitually do many of the things I once did. I listen to music far less, watch a lot less TV. A big step in 2016 was that I stopped playing computer games, for the first time in my life, as an experiment.
This step is indicative of the change that has me to become happier in my life and far less anxious.
But first lets look at our society, and our lifestyle.
We’re consumers. We are the byproducts of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.Tyler Durden, Fight Club
I’m constantly surprised how much people buy, but also how much time they spend talking about buying things.
The consumer society has created meaning for us by supplying an endless amount of products and services (like information) for us to purchase. We fill our lives up by filling up our houses with possessions and lionise products and companies. Or like me fill up our heads with ideas.
We as part of the capitalist society are seen less as people and more as consumers. Advertising is about creating a desire for a product, service. It’s about fostering gluttony.
For me as a consumer at some point I realised I had to give up on consuming so much and offer more. To create value in others peoples lives and help others.
A creative life
We really need to make the shift from the consumption of products and services to create something for others.
This act of creation is what validates our existence in a way that consumption never can. Consumption merely points to our existence like a black hole sucking in matter. Creation is like a supernova, you light up your surroundings and scatter potential into the world.
You also show something of your character in what you create. It’s a way of saying ‘I did this‘, this is my contribution, a highly individual statement.
This journey from consumer to creator is often what defines our lives. It’s here we can find happiness because putting something out into the world, being generous makes us feel genuine, helpful and gives us meaning and purpose in our life. It’s what makes a creative life rewarding.
It can be a product, like a work of art or literature. A piece of scientific research that moves our understanding of the world forwards. Or an idea that helps us see things in a new light.
Alternatively, it can be creating a space and time for people to gather together to connect. A business that solves a problem or a charity that helps others.
The possibilities for creation are wide and far-reaching. it doesn’t have to be large scale either. It could be a hobby of your own, a side hustle.
It’s less about taking from others and more about offering to others. It’s the sort of thing I see in my own life as I write more, paint and build a business. Breaking free of the toxic side of our society and living less like a zombie.
Consumption is about avoiding fear, the building is about facing your fear, so it’s not easy. I sometimes fall back into the trap of consuming too much art and ideas instead of focusing on my own. It shows this trap of consumption is always there. Because it’s always easier to consume and procrastinate.
So this is a rallying call to you, reduce the mindless consumption and build something. A work of art, a business, friendships, something.