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Making a Culture of Creation, Not Consumption

Making a Culture of Creation, Not Consumption

Throughout history, humankind has excelled in being creative. I’d argue that we still do! Unfortunately, in our modern times, this natural creativity is being pushed aside in favor of our need to consume. This need is just as instinctual, of course; how could we survive if we didn’t consume water, food, sleep, or shelter? We simply have to consume the basic necessities before we can be free to produce anything else. This dichotomy of creativity and consumption is designed as a balance, and generally, it works very well.

We have a modern problem, however. Our natural need to consume has turned into a full-on culture and lifestyle, and it is being systematically progressed by sellers of all sorts. Politics, media, industry, technology, agriculture, and business advertisers everywhere have capitalized on offering us more, more, and more if we only buy their “thing.”

On the surface, it seems we have endless choices and can spend our time consuming whatever we feel like, whenever we feel like. It’s fun, it’s easy, and there’s always something new to try. Harmless, right?

It’s not so simple. To acquire this consumerist life, we often trade in our creativity and productivity. The time we once spent creating turns into time spent consuming.

And we, as individuals and as a culture, need those creative qualities. Creative production feeds not just our sense of self but also our relationships, intellectual stimulation, and sense of purpose. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, humans deeply need these things in order to live a fulfilled life.

How can we find balance between rampant consumerism and our need to create? While we can’t rewind the clock to simpler times, there are a few easy ways to get back in touch with our creative side. Being a producer instead of just a consumer is often just a habit or two away. Where should we start?

1. Learn to Cook One Amazing Recipe

We all have that grandma who is famous for her cinnamon rolls or an aunt who makes amazing beef stew. Older generations knew the power of making something from scratch in the kitchen. Food brings people together, and it’s one of the simplest ways to produce instead of consume.

By learning to cook one foolproof recipe, we develop practical kitchen skills, hone our creative energy, and pocket a valuable social calling card. Whatever event comes up, we can always rely on our famous _________ (fill in the blank!). Potlucks, parties, holidays, birthdays, date night in, friend events, game night, church events, and meal trains all need snacks or beverages provided. Let’s be one of those cooks in the kitchen! It can be surprising how little time it takes to become good at just one recipe. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box when choosing a recipe: kombucha tea, taco dip, craft beer, and grilled kebabs are all on the list of “so-and-so’s famous _______” in my circles.

2. Hit “Dial” on the Phone

So many of us, myself included, rely on texting or DMing to keep up with friends and family. And while group threads and social media have their place, it shouldn’t replace real-time conversation.

I’m in a season of life where phone calls are extremely difficult because I have two loud toddlers. (Read: I have made two phone calls in six months!) However, I compensate by trying to schedule regular in-person hangouts with my parents, siblings, and friends.

Real relationships are built in real time, face to face. So instead of scrolling comments on our latest Instagram post, let’s pick up the phone for its intended purpose and call someone we care about.

Another option that may work better for some relationships is a good old-fashioned letter. Pick up a pen and paper, and write an actual, physical letter to someone who can’t do phone calls well—I have an aged grandmother and an ailing uncle who love to receive mail.

3. Resurrect a Childhood Interest

I’ve written before on the importance of hobbies. Our leisure time should be filled with real, fulfilling activities rather than endless scrolling, which is really nothing but media consumption anyway.

I’ll admit, it’s hard to jump-start an interest in a new hobby. I wouldn’t know what to do if someone handed me a pottery wheel and said, “Get started, you’ll have fun!” But like everyone else, I have a few specific childhood interests that fell by the wayside in high school and college. We can return to these at any time and revive them into skills, hobbies, and passion projects as an adult. For instance, my husband always liked history and calligraphy books in school. Nowadays, he has built up an intimidating skill set designing and drawing his own Celtic knotwork. My little sister has always loved music and today makes music videos and writes her own songs. What could the rest of us accomplish with our childhood passions if we nurtured them once again?

4. Join a Group/Club

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to combine all three previous suggestions. A group or club centers on a shared interest or activity, of course (think book clubs, workout programs, knitting groups, or cooking classes). It also requires members to meet regularly, in person, for said activity. And at least in the Midwest where we love a good potluck, people take turns providing snacks, too!

So, if we want to jump-start being a producer instead of a consumer, the easiest trick in the book is joining a group. For example, my sister and a friend go to regular trivia nights. My godmother is deeply involved in her church’s meal trains for community members in need. My husband, brothers, and brothers-in-law all are committed to their workout programs and hiking group. My mom, sisters, and friends are all involved with book clubs. All these groups have become staples in our schedules and relationships.

Becoming a producer instead of a consumer doesn’t mean overhauling our whole lives. We need both! The key lies in finding balance. Let’s nurture our creative sides and not overindulge in consumption. Let’s hone our habits to reflect what we want and what we believe.

Image credit: Unsplash

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