In a podcast with her husband CJ Hitz, my mentor Shelley Hitz referred to an idea that came from Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect. He suggests reflecting on your life by asking yourself how much time you spend consuming and how much time you spend creating. Many of us find ourselves stimulated by creating and suppressed by consuming.
Consuming comes in many forms: eating, drinking, watching TV and movies, reading news, books and blogs, attending concerts and sporting events, listening to sermons and books on CD, shopping for clothes, gifts, furniture and groceries, and letting others provide services for us, like massages and manicures. We are a consumer culture, and our whole economy depends on consuming.
Creating also comes in many forms: painting, drawing, cooking and baking, writing, decorating, cleaning, gardening, singing, playing games, playing instruments, visiting, conversing, building, crafting, and providing services for others.
Expand your view of creating beyond the parameters of the arts. Say, for example, you are consuming a high school football game. During the cheers, you join in, clapping your hands and shouting the words. At the end of the game, you join in singing the alma mater of your school. I would say you have both consumed and created the football game.
Creating usually puts you “in the moment.” Rather than being a passive observer at the game, you joined in and spent energy on the cheering and the singing. You added to the festive atmosphere of the event, a creative act. Your joining in put you in the moment and made you a participant, not just a spectator.
The same can be said for food. Our land is in the midst of an epidemic of obesity, and I wonder if a little more creating could alleviate it. Nutritionists assert that two of the worst ways for us to eat are at restaurants and from the processed food category. Both of these ways of eating turn us into passive consumers. We don’t make the food, choose the ingredients, or participate in the cooking. We just receive the meal from the server or the microwave. If we created the meal ourselves, it would be cleaner, more nutritious, and lower in calories. As creator-consumers perhaps we would experience our food in the moment, enjoying it on deeper levels.
I am not suggesting that we give up all consumption, just that we balance it with creating. For example, if we just spent two hours passively consuming a movie at the cinema, we could go out to a restaurant for a meal or we could drive through to get fast food. We would be following consumption with consumption. Instead, let’s go to the store, select some colorful, fresh ingredients, and whip up a quick stir-fry at home. Thereby we balance our consumption with creating, improve our diet, and live more in the moment.