I love to consume. Love it. I consume movies, podcasts, music, TV, whatever “goods” are — I consume it all.
There’s a magical feeling from consuming — the endorphins of having something new (in the case of a product), the smugness of having new talking points for something I know will come up in conversation later, the articulation of experiences I’ve felt put into language for me…
And I think physiologically, the action of consuming thoughts and ideas feel as gratifying (or nearly as gratifying) as the creation of thoughts and ideas themselves.
We live in a consumer culture — there are more “goods” to buy and more information to take in than ever before. There are 300 hours of video uploaded every MINUTE to YouTube!
But besides the feelings of endorphins that come with consuming, there is no reward in this world for pure consumption (putting basic needs aside). Often, consumption creates a cycle of more consumption (bingeing a series on Netflix. Spending too much money at bars so you work a job you hate to afford rent in your expensive apartment you bought to be near the bars you spend too much money at).
We are rewarded for our production. This is true on both large and small scales — your job rewards your for your production, and the world rewards you for your production — whether they reward you with money or attention.
There are some cynics (I’m one of them) who would argue that there is likely no truly original thought. (“I thought of Uber years ago!”)
And I would agree that most “original” thoughts are being formed by several people at about the same time, somewhere. In fact, I think I’ve heard that exact argument before with even better evidence than I’m prepared to give you here.
So what am I talking about?
If two cavemen in two different regions both realized they could make something round and created the wheel, that is original thought in both cases — using the knowledge and resources they each had individually to give birth to something new from it.
The second caveman to see the wheel and then produce his own replica of the wheel isn’t being an original thinker. But the guy who invented the tire was!
I think you get my point.
In my good moments, I know I’m capable of organizing thoughts into a unique viewpoint. It happens any time I’m having conversation, answering questions in an interview, etc. On the fly, I’m able to connect disparate ideas, tie them together, and explain that new connection I created.
I think it’s a muscle — some people (like my buddy Zach) have worked that muscle so much that they can’t help but constantly be filtering the data they are receiving into new patterns based on past experience.
For me, it takes more focused attention (and intention) to make those connections. It requires prompting. To the point where I literally interview myself with probing questions.
Whatever it takes, I’m going to work that muscle.