Are you disgusted by videos of people trampling each other as doors open at 4am on Black Friday? Or shocked at how many hours the average American sits in front of a TV watching episode after episode? Or do you cringe when a morbidly obese person in an electric scooter orders up the largest size burger, fries, and soda on the menu and later decides to top it off with an ice cream? Our consumerist society is rampant; we’ve fallen victim to a never-ending quest to obtain the newest, coolest, best, biggest thing, and we’ve chosen to sit idle for a significant portion of our lives electing to be inundated by someone else’s usually less-than-positive messages.
Juxtapose the consumerist culture with productive achievement. Do you remember studying like crazy for a challenging test? Or dedicating a few extra hours at work to write up a proposal you’ve been thinking of? Or painting a (maybe not so) splendid canvas of your friends’ favorite animals which you intend to gift to them during their baby shower? Or waking up early to cook a healthy breakfast for your significant other? None of these actions were the easiest option available to you. When you did them you made a conscious choice to expend energy. Essentially you chose to produce instead of consume.
Afterwards you were happier knowing you positively impacted the world instead of having been impacted by the world. In these scenarios your grades were better which allowed you to get your dream job, your proposal successfully advocated funding and you’re the lucky guy that now gets to see your idea become reality under your own leadership, your friends now know that your relationship is valued more than a $45 gift you picked up on the way over to their party, and your significant other now wakes up with a smile knowing that you cared enough about them to cook up their favorite pancake recipe. What a phenomenal return on investment of your energy!
As mentioned in My Story, Ayn Rand has filled my head with many ideas, inspirations, and questions. I highly recommend a thorough read of her crowning novel Atlas Shrugged. I certainly don’t agree with all her points, but her own self-described philosophy has shaped my beliefs and the roots of this blog post can be traced to her words:
“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
In the context of this blog post, when faced with the option to consume or produce, choose the latter. Your choice will be rewarded, oftentimes in many ways that may not even be evident to you.
Allow me to share a few examples from my life. I hope they may spur introspection on your part to see where you have choices to produce instead of consuming.
When I come home from work my energy levels are usually at their lowest point in the day. For this reason it is tempting to disconnect and watch a few short prank videos on the internet to cheer up my day. All too often suddenly it seems I feel hungry and as I look to the clock I realize I’ve sucked away hours of time with nothing to show for it. Other days when I come home I fight the urge to open the computer and instead lace up my running shoes to hit the streets for a nice jog. While doing this my energy level quickly spikes and I find myself smiling at and greeting people I pass on the streets. Little do I know that the homeless guy I have a quick 30-second conversation with at a stoplight was feeling revitalized a bit after a long bout of depression because I was the first person to actually look him in the eye in days and wish him well. I wind up jogging around town, and while waiting for another light to change, I pick up some trash blowing down the sidewalk, depositing it in a nearby trash can. I didn’t realize that a mother in a nearby car used that as a teaching moment for her daughter in the backseat. When I get back to my apartment building I hold the door open for a man in a wheelchair who was struggling with the heavy doors. When I get back to my apartment I’m still buzzing on my runner’s high and decide to cook a new recipe which turns out to be my new favorite variation of acorn squash and I now know what dish I’ll bring to the office potluck next week. In just that simple example, my choice to produce (go for a run) instead of consume (watch internet videos) resulted in me spreading positive energy to many people’s lives without even knowing it.
In another example, after biking to the grocery store to pick up some fruit I have a bad habit of browsing the ice cream aisle. I have a mega sweet tooth and when I’m hungry I’m at my weakest for breaking down and buying some. After eating the ice cream I can’t concentrate on anything for a few hours as the excess sugar keeps my mind jumping around, and I ruin my appetite so I simply forego my planned healthy meal. On the other hand, the days I choose to skip the ice cream I simply make my purchase of apples and head home. This saves me $3, which is $3 less that I now have to save for retirement, meaning I can now enjoy a few extra minutes of life with my family instead of being at the office. Additionally, I am now able to focus on writing another blog post that will be viewed by thousands of people and may inspire them to join the minmylife lifestyle. Lastly, I get a better night’s rest knowing that my dietary needs were satisfied and I’m not feeling guilty that I broke down to my temptations again. This allows me to give a better presentation at work the next day and ultimately leads to the program that I manage acquiring more resources to do the job. Definitely a decent tradeoff for not consuming the ice cream!
A final example: my sister’s birthday is coming up in a few months. I could spend some cash to buy her a random trinket that she may or may not like and which will likely go on a shelf and just become another thing that she doesn’t need but she feels guilty about disposing of because it was a gift from a loved-one. I quickly decide not to buy that item and instead spread some positive energy. I consider donating some money to a charity in her name, booking a weekend trip for her to attend that yoga retreat on her bucket list, or build her something unique with my hands. I end up choosing the latter and walk to the local park to gather some cool-looking sticks. I conjure up a picture frame that’ll match her rustic-themed house, and insert a favorite picture of our family inside the frame. I know this is a gift that she will truly treasure and will be a great conversation-starter during her home’s social gatherings for years to come. Additionally, it’ll give her a daily reminder that her family is looking out for her. Not only that, but I taught myself a new skill—how to build a picture frame, which I could turn into a side job if I wanted to, earning some extra cash so I could retire a few years earlier.
I challenge you to think of the moments in your life that you choose to consume instead of produce. It may be difficult because our lifestyle, habits, and behaviors cloud our perspective of what truly is a choice. Read up on the Choice Awareness blog post if you would like some tips on this. Once you’ve identified your choices of consumption, try changing a few of those to opportunities to produce. I’m certain you’ll quickly find yourself ascending the spiral of positive energy, and inspiring others to change their lifestyle too.
Bottom Line: Break away from today’s consumerist society. Look for opportunities to produce instead of consuming. Doing so will result in your life ascending the spiral of positive energy.
Did you find this post interesting? If so, check out our website at www.minmylife.org. If the subject material of this blog post caught your attention, I recommend starting with our positive energy page.
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