Until the age of 26, I was a full time consumer.
Movies, series, news, porn, social media, games, drinks, restaurants, food deliveries, clothing and so on.
I consumed it all, every week, like most people around me.
One day, I asked myself a question :
I am spending most of my time consuming stuff but when and what do I create?
This question led me to this answer: never and nothing.
I was creating stuff in my work but it doesn’t count as I had no choice, it was for someone else.
Sometimes I'd think: I’m reading a great book, written by a brilliant author. I love it, it must be so rewarding to create this from scratch and make it available to people.
Or when watching a great video : Wow, I’m sure they had so much fun creating that, going from the idea to the recording and laughing so hard in the process.
And so on.
And I, what do I create?
At that time, nothing. But I loved to give my opinion on everything while drinking beers on bar terraces.
Like everyone, I felt that I had a creative potential, and wanted to express it to live a more intentional life.
Let’s jump in.
Most people spend their life consuming on autopilot
In our “hyper-connected” world, we are much more consumers than creators.
Our days are filled with absorbing information, buying stuff, binge-watching series, and mindlessly scrolling our social media feeds.
The masses consume the creations made by a small percentage of other people: movies, music, books, social media, video games, food, clothes, etc.
And most people work 8 hours a day for a job they don't like to fulfill the dream of their company’s creator.
The two major problems of a consumption-driven life
1. Endless consumption leads to feeling empty and unfulfilled
The culture of consumption is like an insatiable beast, always craving more and more.
The more we consume, the more we feel discontent.
It’s like being in a hamster wheel, running non-stop but getting nowhere.
Why does it make us feel like that?
Because it focuses on external gratification rather than internal fulfillment.
No matter how much we acquire or consume, it’s never enough if we don't feel fulfilled within.
This leads to a never-ending cycle of wanting, obtaining, and yet never truly feeling satisfied.
The consumption culture makes us believe our fulfillment comes from external conditions.
Truth is, real fulfillment comes from inside us.
The problem: internal fulfillment doesn’t fuel economic growth. Except for therapists and authors.
2. Never-ending consumption impacts mental health
The hamster wheel of endless consumption doesn’t just make us feel empty, it can also impact our mental health and lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
A life consumed by consumption leaves no room for introspection, self-expression, or genuine connections with others.
We become passive spectators of our own lives, going through the motions without truly engaging with the world or ourselves.
The constant overload of information leads to mental fatigue, stress and overwhelm.
It's like trying to fill a cup that's already overflowing.
Instead of enriching our lives, this makes us feel drowned and disconnected.
A consumption-driven life is a life lived on the surface, never diving deep into the richness of human experience, potential, and personal growth.
It's time to step off the hamster wheel and start creating our own paths.
What is “to create”?
Creating means bringing something new into existence.
It involves using our imagination, skills, and effort to produce something unique.
- Photography / videography
- Painting / drawing / designing
- Playing an instrument / creating music
- Creating a new choregraphy
- Creating new cooking recipes
- Launching a business / a side project / a nonprofit
- Organizing community events
- Crafting things
- And so much more, it’s infinite.
The magical benefits of creating
That’s simple, creating something brings many benefits. Here’s a selection of them :
Self-growth: Creation involves learning, problem-solving and critical thinking. That’s crucial to grow as a person.
Improved mental health & well-being: Doing creative activities is therapeutic. It reduces stress, anxiety and simply helps your emotional well-being.
Much better self-esteem: Contrary to scrolling social media, when you create, you build self-confidence and personal satisfaction. Each new small step you make contributes to a more positive self-image.
Sense of purpose: Creating something from scratch, watching your ideas come to life gives a sense of purpose and direction, leading to a much more fulfilling life.
Mindfulness & presence: Creation puts you in a state of focus and mindfulness where you’re fully engaged and present. Great for inner peace.
True self-expression: Creation provides a means to express yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, leading to a better understanding and acceptance of yourself.
Resilience & adaptability: The act of creating helps you deal with failures, adapt, and find new ways to approach challenges, building resilience that's useful in all areas of life.
Strengthens social connections: Shared creative activities can help build and deepen relationships, fostering a sense of belonging and improving social health.
To conclude this part, the act of creating makes our mind healthier, our life more fulfilled, rich and meaningful.
Do we feel these benefits when scrolling Instagram or TikTok?
No we don’t.
The 3 major obstacles to creation
1. Cheap dopamine is a vicious competitor to creation
Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and streaming services such as Netflix are designed (and constantly optimized) to keep triggering dopamine hits.
That’s neuroscience and behavioral science that is used by these platforms to get us addicted.
And that’s very, very powerful.
This addiction keeps us hooked, always checking our phone, doom-scrolling our feeds or binge-watching episodes looking for instant gratification.
There's a double cost to that.
First, this addiction consumes a lot of time of our lives.
We’re talking of several hours per day. 4.8 hours on average spent on a smartphone daily (source : App Annie).
That’s 6 whole days per month. On a phone. Without counting binge-watching series.
Second, as we’re more and more used to instant gratification, engaging in activities that don’t provide such quick rewards is getting increasingly difficult.
It requires much more motivation compared to checking your phone and get quick dopamine.
We’re conditioned to choose effortless pleasure over meaningful efforts like creating, which usually require time, patience, and persistence.
But even if that’s a tough battle, we can overcome that.
How to overcome that obstacle :
1. Be aware of this addiction without judging yourself. We all face this, it’s OK.
2. Display your screen time on your home screen on your phone (widget). That helps you be aware of that and be more in control.
3. Minimize your number of notifications and use the do not disturb / focus mode.
4. Use the black and white mode on your phone. At least several hours a day.
5. Tell yourself that :
- Your potential is infinite, you’re a free person, not a dopamine slave in a hamster wheel.
- Meaningful achievements are not done from chasing cheap dopamine.
2. The fear of failure can block us. Accept to fail, that’s mandatory to learn and grow
Most of us don’t create because we fear that our work won't be good enough, that we'll fail, or that others will judge us.
That includes the impostor syndrome and all that.
But the thing is, creation is a process. A journey.
It involves taking (relative) risks, making mistakes, learning from them and growing along the way.
Aren’t we meant to grow? I think we are.
Or we can just sit on a couch watching others create while eating chips.
But isn’t that something that we’ll regret on our dying bed?
In my case, I’d regret that.
How to overcome the fear of failure :
1. Embrace failure. You can’t learn and grow without failing. It’s totally part of the process of success. You failed when you learned to walk. Still, you kept trying and now you walk.
2. Start small: Begin with small projects or goals. As you gain confidence and learn to cope with failure and judgment, gradually take on bigger challenges.
3. If you can, surround yourself with people who create. It’s easier to create when it’s normal around you.
4. Remember the cost of not doing: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain said this.
3. Perfectionism can keep you immobile. Let go
I’ve had a lot of trouble with this one. I still have.
Writing this article still takes me too much time because of perfectionism.
But it’s fine. As long as I finally release my creation.
Perfectionism sets an impossibly high bar.
The thought of not reaching that 'perfect' standard can paralyze us.
But here's the truth: perfection is a myth. Creation is about progress, not perfection.
It's about the journey, the learning, the joy of making something new.
So let's liberate ourselves and embrace the beauty of imperfection.
Because it's when we dare to create, that we truly grow, improve, and shine.
How to overcome perfectionism :
1. Remember the cost of not doing.
2. Let go and release the work. Nobody really cares except you.
3. Read these quotes :
- "Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” Anne Wilson Schaef
- “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali
- “Everything is perfect and there is always room for improvement.” Shunryu Suzuki
- “Have the courage to be imperfect.” Alfred Adler
- “Excellence does not require perfection.” Henri James
Creating: a gift to ourselves and others
I don’t know the current average consumption / creation ratio per person in our society of over-consumption.
But I’d guess it’s not far from 95%+ consumption and less than 5% creation, if not 99/1.
To live a more intentional and fulfilling life, let’s improve our creation / consumption balance.
Remember some the benefits :
- Meaning and purpose
- Deeper fulfillment
- Better self-esteem
- Better ability to focus
In simple words : feeling damn better in this world.
How to start creating?
1. If you don’t know what to create, explore your interests : Do you enjoy music, creating new cooking recipes, writing, drawing, launching a business, gardening, crafting objects? It can be anything. Explore.
2. Experiment: Try out different activities. See what resonates with you.
3. Learn new skills: Take a course or learn a new skill. Expanding your knowledge can open up new avenues for creativity. We should always keep learning.
4. Practice introspection: Spend quiet time with yourself. Meditate or journal about what makes you feel fulfilled and excited.
I feel much better since I’ve added creation in my life.
MailReach, my company is a co-creation, designed to provide high scale value while remaining free as a bootstrapped company.
And this writing journey is my own creation.
Of course I’ll be honest saying that writing articles bring less short term dopamine than binge-watching series.
But the internal fulfillment provided by creation is real. And it’s multiplied when it’s shared.
And no series, movie, social media, metaverse or any external stimulus will provide such a feeling.
The more I create, the more intentional I am and the more aligned I feel.
Creation is, by itself, a therapy. A way to grow.