Getting the balance right
In today’s world, it’s a sign of strength to go against the grain and challenge the status quo. The temptation is to consume every form of media we are bombarded with in order to keep up or even ahead of the curve. But what impact does this unconscious behaviour have on our life goals or even our mental health?
At times, when we look at what others are putting out in the world, we can feel frustrated at our perception of what we have managed to achieve or create. Does it ever feel as though other people are more able to produce something new where you struggle? In reality, the assumption is probably unfounded. The frustration of being stuck in a rut or not being able to afford yourself time away from the desk to gain clarity of thought is a true luxury in our current era.
"When a creative artist is fatigued it is often from too much inflow, not too much outflow." — Julia Cameron
Looking after our mental health
Occasionally, too much time on our devices is a symptom of us trying to fill a void. Examples include buying more clothing than are necessary, next day online shopping for items that we’ve ordered without a second thought . The real hole is often a creative void that we all have to a greater or lesser extent. If we spend more time creating, we will spend less time consuming content that is chipping away at our most precious commodity - time on this earth.
"Verily by Time. Man is surely at a loss ." — Qur'an (103:1-2)
Be a generator
From a young age, school and society unwittingly put us in a box: the arty one, the brainy one and so on. Later on in life, we feel confined to work at what we’ve been told we excel at, limiting our courage to try something new. These labels translate into invisible shackles and can take some work to undo. Without reflection and examination, they may dampen our creative confidence and the risk of creating something exciting via a cross-pollination of ideas and disciplines.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.” — Steve Jobs
Permission to explore
If you want to make a conscious shift in the other direction, start by thinking about carving out time or space to find inspiration. Make conscious choices to cut out what you don’t need in your life to make room for growth.
Take an honest inventory of everything you consume daily, in particular digitally and you will be surprised by what you find. For example:
- Social media
- Browsing websites
- News (especially in the current climate)
Then make a list of everything you have recently produced:
- Your work/study
- Working on a project
- Jotting down your ideas on a piece of paper/notepad
- Brainstorming a new idea with a friend/colleague
If your inflow > outflow this could be affecting your mood without you even realising it.
Find opportunities in your own routines or work. Why not add value to your workplace by offering to write a guide or mentor a younger colleague.
If someone you follow online creates a negative feeling in you, delete them and instead, curate your feeds to reflect a more positive and inspiring mindset. Filter what you follow and devote time according to what you hope to create one day. Motivate yourself through your healthier consumption.
When we are generating new ideas, output or even the promise of something new on the horizon, our brain spends less time comparing ourselves with others and discourages us from wasting time on things that hold us back.
Try calculating your own input to output ratio and see if it affects patterns in your daily life. Be generous with what you’ve learned and be sure to pass on and teach what you have learned along the way.