“The opposite of happiness isn’t sadness — it’s boredom.”
Over the past 4 years, I’ve read a countless number of articles on following your bliss, building passions, and being happy. Most articles touch on some common themes: finding passionate work, building positive and healthy relationships, being open-minded, and trying new things.
This is, as you know, is all great advice.
But over time, even though I started to explore and define my own life with these themes in mind, something felt off.
There would be days where I would be insanely happy and days where I felt immensely depressed. During the happy days I’d have no problem meeting people, exploring the city, feeling optimistic, and loving the world. My positive energy radiated from my personality and I attracted everything I wanted in my life.
But the down days were much, much worse. I’d sit in my bed, watch TV, and go back to sleep with continual thoughts of defeat in my head. I’d eventually drag myself out of bed to go hang out with some friends, but my mind would be somewhere else. Life seemed dull, gray, and flat out boring. I had a hard time talking to people, my anxiety skyrocketed, and my confidence dropped to an all time low.
On the surface, there didn’t seem to be any correlation. We all have good and bad days. It’s just normal, right? So I didn’t think about it for a while and just played with the cards that life handed me every day.
But after a couple of months of accepting my bad days as normality, I stumbled across the reason for exactly why the worst days occurred and why my happiest days were so awesome.
If I woke up feeling like crap, instead of allowing myself to have a bad day, I remembered this happiness principle and designed my day to make sure that it would be a good one.
Even better, when I applied this principle to the days where I was already in a good mood, I found that my level of happiness increased even further.
It makes perfect sense, but over the years I hadn’t even once seen this advice in an article on happiness, so I want to share it with you.
A mentor told me a couple years ago a core principle that he lives by:
“The more you create, the more you deserve to consume.“
This is a powerful piece of advice, and once I started living by it, I began to see that my happiest days were directly correlated to the amount of things that I created compared to the things that I consumed.
And it makes total sense.
How many of us go throughout our day consuming more than we are creating?
How many of us sit on message boards all day lurking around without providing any value to society?
I recently read an article that stated that 90 percent of people are “lurkers” on the internet and do not participate whatsoever.
The majority of people consume and consume, and don’t put in any of the work to create – it’s not surprising that many people aren’t that happy.
The more effort you are putting in the work and creating things that you love, the happier you will be.
If you aren’t creating anything and decide to watch TV or just read a bunch of books or discussion posts without applying information to your life, then you’re probably going to feel like crap in the long run.
Now I want to ask you — how much do you create compared to how much you consume?
Finding Your Creation-to-Consumption Ratio
This exercise will help you become aware of how much you create compared to how much you consume and will realize how that affects your emotional state.
At the end of the exercise, you will know how to design your days to make sure that your days will end with happiness rather then sadness.
1) For the next 5 days, I want you to create as much as you possibly can.
- Make a post on the message boards giving your perspectives and lessons learned on a recent event.
- Write your significant other a hand-written note telling them how awesome they are.
- Host a dinner party.
- Go out and meet someone new.
- Do something you’re scared of
2) At the end of each day, write down what you created that day
If you are having trouble, think about how you added value in the world today. It doesn’t have to be physical – even giving a compliment to someone is considered creating here.
3) Write down everything that you consumed
- Watched an hour of TV
- Read a chapter in a book, write that down.
- Bought a product or service (ex. a haircut or…a Snuggie )
4) Write down how you feel
5) After 5 days of doing this, go back and look at the trends
Look at the ratio of how much you created compared to how much you consumed and see how it affected your emotional state. Is there a correlation?
I hypothesize that you’ll start to see that the more you create, the happier you are. You’ll see the difference in your happiness level between when you create 50% of the time and when you create 90% of the time.
You’ll start to see that your happiness level drops if you consume for the most of the day, and that if you don’t create at all, life seems meaningless.
Of course there are days where we all want to sit on the couch, smoke a joint, and watch TV all day with your friends – there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you continue to do this in the long run without a significant amount of creation, you probably won’t be as happy as you know you can be.
The more you create, the more you deserve to consume.
This principle changed the way I go about my day, and it has helped me realize that adding value to the world every day results in happiness way beyond superficial pleasures.
By simply creating more and consuming less, my bad days are less frequent and my happy days are filled with passion, joy, and overwhelming positivity.
So what do you say? Take notice of your creation-to-consumption ratio and see if you see the same correlation.
You might be pleasantly surprised.