(Moneywatch) That bloated sensation you feel isn't just from the excess eggnog and stuffing you ate over the holidays. It's far worse. It's actually the end, not the beginning, of each January that's the most important time of the year.
Most people are focused on losing the extra pounds they gained and paying off their credit card debt -- in the publishing world the focus is almost exclusively "health and wealth." We have literally and figuratively stuffed ourselves with too much food and too much spending, and by late January we realize the damage we've done. However, the issue is much bigger than eating or spending too much. In fact, the choice is as important as the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and success and failure. Which way you choose to go will either lead you to feel full or fulfilled. It's a simple choice with dramatic ramifications. Choose wrongly and you'll feel agitated, depressed and uninspired. Choose correctly and you'll feel energized, happy and at peace.
But what are the two choices? Consuming and creating. Or more accurately, consuming versus creating. Consuming is easy and fun. We all do it so well. Sure, we eat too much and spend too much, but our consumption response runs much deeper. The consuming I'm referring to is less about calories and dollars (although those are important, too) and more a way of life -- consuming thoughts, ideas, values and habits through talk radio, TV and gossip magazines at the grocery checkout. These forces have a powerful grip on us by capturing our attention and then shaping our beliefs. Worse, they prevent us from creating.
Imagine a pipe connected to our soul that extends to the outside world. If we've become complacent by consuming too much of what other people create -- movies, TV shows, articles -- these ideas flow into us and change who we are, what we believe and what we value. It gets worse. By over-consuming, the flow of ideas is always from the world to us and there isn't any opportunity to create and allow what's in your soul, head and heart to flow out into the world -- the book you've always wanted to write, the documentary you want to film, the business you want to start. This is the real tragedy. There is something within you that can improve your life, your family's, and the world, but if you're too busy passively consuming other people's values and creations, yours will remain forever stuck inside of you.
You need to start looking at the world a little differently. You need to create instead of consume and build instead of buy. You've got to turn everything you've learned on its head. Instead of always thinking about what you can buy, you need to shift your thinking to focus on what you can create. Instead of being brainwashed by billion dollar ad budgets to think that consumption leads to happiness and success, I want you to reject that premise.
Consuming has morphed from being a luxury into being a hobby. We've become a consumer culture where almost everything is directed at selling us something. The goal is to find a balance between consuming and creating.
Happiness and contentment come from creating. You simply cannot consume your way to fulfillment. It doesn't work. It never works. True joy occurs when you produce something meaningful. Start small, but just start.