Are you a creative type, or do you tend to focus your energies on consuming? All of us of course naturally do both, and each form of functioning can be understood as essential to the other.
If we want to live a creative life, we must at least consume enough to meet our basic material needs. At the same time, we cannot consume very much without enabling creativity – on our part and especially that of people generally.
In my book, The Seven Keys of Natural Life, I discuss the importance of creative human life in some depth. And though creativity and consumption are both natural, and naturally circular, we have good reason to believe that creativity-focused life – or high creation/low consumption lifestyles – are superior overall.
All Of Us Live On A ‘Consumption-Creation’ Continuum
This is because creativity-oriented life tends to be more natural, satisfying, beneficial, intelligent, and sustainable than living patterns marked by high consumption levels, even ones with significant amounts of creativity. Put another way, life that is principally creative, especially when aligned with or focused on crucial natural needs, often produces greater personal and social health, or natural adaptivity, than other patterns of modern living.
I would like to acquaint you with these crucial ideas, and the discussion that follows will: 1) define consumption and creativity, 2) discuss their respective natural merits and limitations, and 3) make the case for personal and collective functioning that is highly creative and also attentively limits excessive – distracting, inhibiting, unhelpful, irrational, and unsustainable – consumption.
Consumption Versus Creation
You already may have a good idea what the words consumption and creation mean, and the very different forms of natural functioning they describe. Both involve the use of resources, but in dissimilar and even opposing ways. Consumption, in its essence, is the using of resources – from raw materials to finished goods and services, and even intangibles such as security and time – as they are presented or available to us.
By contrast, creation entails the use of resources in new or inventive ways – or the production of new value with them in the terminology of economists – resulting in the generation of transformed, more efficient, or more effective resources, goods, or conditions compared with earlier ones. (In this definition, resource use that does not increase value is technically not creation, regardless of our aim or intention.) Since both consumption and creation involve the use of resources, we might be tempted to think of them as equivalent in important regards, but this would overlook essential differences in each mode of natural functioning.