To be happier in life, create more!
This is the problem in modern society: we consume about 90% of the time, and spend only around 10% of our time creating.
I encourage the opposite:
Let us spend 90% of our time/effort creating, and only 10% of our time-consuming.
Let me share my rationale:
First of all, I follow in the footsteps of Nassim Taleb; I believe that wisdom comes mostly (via negativa) style; more information/knowledge doesn’t mean more wisdom. Instead, to become wiser, we need to REMOVE/subtract more junk from our heads.
Therefore, just because someone has read 1 million books doesn’t mean they’re smarter/wiser than others. In-fact, this individual might become “fooled by randomness”, and create false and spurious connections from having TOO MUCH information — creating lots of false connections and flags.
For example, if you had a dataset with 1 million points, you would discover false correlations left and right. And this is the problem with statistics and data science:
We mistake correlation for causation.
- Correlation: Two things being related to one another
- Causation: We believe Effect A causes Effect B.
I don’t want to talk too much about this point, but just because you see two points which are correlated doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
Wisdom through creation
The reason why I like writing is that it helps me distill my thoughts and think better. It is difficult for me to think outloud to myself; I think best when I’m engaging friends or colleagues in intense philosophical debate, or when I’m alone and typing ideas out. Thus for me, the creative act of writing is what helps me become wiser– because I am able to distill my thoughts, ideas, and to create some sort of practical takeaway from it.
Happiness in creation
To me, happiness is ‘creative flourishing’ (“eudaimonia” in Ancient Greek). We are best flourishing while we are in the creative act of making stuff.
For example, I flourish when I am editing videos, when I am taking photos, writing poetry, or dancing. I am generally happiest while I’m in the flow of creation — NOT when I am consuming.
Of course, we must consume. As humans, we are biological creatures. We must consume resources to survive (and thrive). We need food, heat, and water for our biological functions to run.
Also for knowledge, we must consume ideas, poetry, and art from others. In order for us to become better photographers, it is essential that we study the masters of photography, because that is where we get our visual training from. Of course you can still take good photos without studying the masters; but I think we all need strong fundamentals to create a strong artistic base.
What happens when you consume too much?
If we consume too much food, sugar, and nonsense– we become fat. We put on excess body fat (adipose tissue), and we actually degrade from a biological perspective. Too much sugar in our diet (like junk information on social media) confuses our metabolic processes, which leads to metabolic dysfunction and malfunctions.
So this is the tricky thing:
We must consume enough— but if we consume TOO MUCH, it is bad for us.
So as artists, we must also consume the artwork of others, but TOO MUCH consumption of the artwork of others is bad for us.
A child at play
To me, the ultimate creator is the child. The child creates without hesitation or any self-censor or critic. They paint, draw, and disregard the lines. They use innovative colors (purple clouds and pink grass), and they don’t really care for praise. They create art for fun, and when they are done, they are quickly “onto the next one”.
As adults, we care too much about praise and admiration from others. But to me, fun is essential in art. Why?
If you’re having fun, it means you’re challenging yourself in a meaningful way.
Children get easily bored when they aren’t being challenged. The same thing often happens to us as creators; we get bored when we don’t challenge ourselves anymore, and we fall into cliches or when we keep repeating ourselves.
So let us never stop challenging ourselves, let us continue to push our limits, and fly higher!