I just recently had a realization that came as quite a shock to me: I am almost 27 years old now and during my entire life, I have basically not produced anything! Sure, I have worked a little bit here and there, but those were such minor parts of my life that they can be neglected.
One third of my life is over and all I did during that time was consume. Consume food, consume shelter, consume clothes, consume products in every shape or form, consume media, consume public services, consume education… consume, consume, consume.
It just seems so natural. All of these things are fairly easily available in our western world, everyone has them, so you don’t give it a second thought. All of this is just miraculously there, waiting for you to consume it. And if you still have parents that pay for all of that, it is even easier to take it for granted.
What I was never fully aware of though (even though in theory I obviously knew it) is that SOMEONE HAS TO PRODUCE ALL OF WHAT WE CONSUME!
It doesn’t sound like a shocking realization at first. But really think about it!
Every meal you ever ate in your life was produced by somebody else. Somebody made the effort to grow the fruits and vegetables. Somebody caught the fish for you. Somebody bred and then killed the animals whose meat you are eating.
Every piece of furniture you are using was produced by somebody else.
Every building you were ever in was built by somebody else.
Every little bit of education you ever received was thought of by somebody else and then written down in books by somebody.
This list goes on and on and covers literally EVERYTHING I ever used during my life so far! I am a consumer and nothing else.
On the flipside, I haven’t made any real contribution myself. I haven’t done ANYTHING to deserve all this! Up until now, I have been absolutely worthless for the rest of the world population. For almost 27 years I have been nothing but a parasite, leeching off the work of others.
Now this is a very drastic way to see things, you might think. After all, most people start working in their mid-twenties and are then producing for about 40 years. And yes, this is certainly true. I will do that soon, too.
But let me ask you this: how many people actually like that? How many people wake up every morning with a big fat smile on their face, happy to go to work and produce value in whatever form? How many people have that kind of attitude? And how many, on the other hand, have the consumer mentality, where they can’t wait to come home from their jobs and consume food and media? How many are only waiting for the weekend throughout the entire week? How many think from one week to the next until they finally have a vacation?
Do you see the pattern here? Most people love consuming way more than they love producing!! But what they are consuming was originally produced by someone who made the effort to do so! Therefore, producing, not consuming, is what makes our world the great place it is nowadays! Nothing can ever be consumed that hasn’t been produced first!
It is a paradox that so many people try to consume as much as possible while producing as little as possible. Just look at me, I consumed for 27 years without producing anything in return!
This is an absolutely fucked-up mindset though. Someone who only consumes doesn’t make any impact on anyone else in the world by doing so. His life is literally worthless. Someone who produces on the other hand makes a contribution, may it be big or small, to the lives of other people. He makes their lives a little better. He leaves a mark on this earth.
Steve Jobs once said that his goal was to “make a dent in the universe”, and he ended up leaving quite a big one. But we all can leave small ones as soon as we make the effort to produce something, anything!
I for example had the choice between watching a TV show and writing this blog post. Watching TV would have been the easy decision of consuming and would have benefitted only me, no one else. Writing this blog post on the other hand is a creative work. I produce something and share it with others. It might not reach a lot of people and might not even have a big impact on the ones I do reach. But I am convinced that it made a difference in the world, as small as it may be. By writing these words right now I am creating something that didn’t exist before! I am creating something out of nothing! I am enriching the world! And if I died tomorrow, I still would leave something behind. My little contribution.
And consider that this is only achieved through 90 minutes of producing instead of consuming! Imagine the impact you can have, the legacy you can leave behind, if you apply this mindset to all your free time for the rest of your life! Get rid of the idea that consuming is better than producing! Get rid of the concepts of “weekends” and “vacations” where you have off from the duty of producing! Producing is what makes your life worth something! Why would you want to have off from that?
Instead, become a constant outflow of creating and giving value. Cause this is what gives you purpose in life. This is what gives your life a meaning. So, ironically, giving all this value is what brings value into your life!