To be happy, create
Reclaiming creativity amidst content overwhelm
Two weeks ago I wrote an article about content overwhelm, how it’s making us digital hoarders and crippling our ability to be creative 🔪 💀
The article so far has:
▪️ surpassed 15,000 reads
▪️ reached Top 10 in Hacker News
▪️ been featured in several newsletters
▪️ gained me over 200 newsletter subscribers
Clearly, the message struck a chord. And honestly, it’s not surprising.
We are, without a doubt, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content flooding our social media feeds, our inboxes, and our TVs. It’s a never-ending, ever-flowing stream that, somehow, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from consuming.
We’ve become content addicts longing for their next hit. Hopping from headline to headline, swiping from video to podcast, to story, to Tiktok, to Shorts… We are glued to our screens 24/7 watching, reading, listening. Consuming everything, but at the same time, nothing at all.
For the most part, it’s not an enriching experience. And we are aware. Yet we keep going. Like Stockholm syndrome victims, we’ve come to not only accept, but love, how the algorithms prey on our most basic needs, and hold our attention captive for profit.
This vicious cycle of craving entertainment and stimulation, like empty sugars deprived of any substance or nutrition, plunges us neck-deep into a whirlpool of consumerism dread, siphoning away our motivation, and turning us into serial procrastinators.
But why is that?
I’m sure you’ve heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: a psychological theory mapping out a five-tier model of human needs. According to Maslow, the needs lower in the hierarchy have to be met before a person can address or even feel the need to address the higher levels.
Provided the first three levels are met, those of physiology, safety, and belonging, humans begin to seek expression and creation as a means to fulfill our esteem needs. Our need and desire to feel accomplished with ourselves, and respected by others.
We want to make something of ourselves and be recognized for it.
And if we are lucky enough to meet these needs, then we move on to the latest tier: self-actualization. The need that calls us to realize our full potential.
So once we have secured access to food, shelter, health, and belonging, we have the space to crave one of our most inherent needs: creativity.
We are pulled towards expression, by whatever medium, as a way to understand the world around us, our peers, and most importantly, ourselves.
Humans are inherently creative.
Our minds, conscious and aware, can’t help it but try to make sense of it all.
To find meaning. To create meaning. And to share that meaning with our peers.
The sharing of meaning has been with us since the dawn of time. From primitive cave paintings, to the awe-inspiring pyramids of Egypt, the outstandingly detailed marble sculptures of ancient Greece, to today’s vibrant cinema, digital masterpieces, and even graffiti.
We have expressed our understanding, beliefs, and experiences of the world through creations of incredible variety in shape, form, and medium.
Creativity is not optional, it's in our DNA, it’s an imperative of our very nature.
And it’s necessary for our well-being and fulfillment.
This is not a new concept. Art and science agree on numerous accounts of the relation between creativity and happiness. When we immerse ourselves in the creative flow, we often experience a state of ‘eudaimonia’, a profound sense of fulfillment and flourishing. The act of creation not only serves as a conduit for self-expression but also cultivates a sense of purpose and meaning.
It's a journey inward that culminates in an outward expression, enriching not just the self but the collective human experience.
However, our world today is not set up to foster creativity. We live hectic lives with little respite, and this modern-day hustle has turned our intrinsic need for belonging and recognition into a double-edged sword.
We go in circles yearning for expression, seeking validation, yet fearing rejection. And we end up with our creative spirit suffocated, gasping for air.
To break free, an intentional approach towards nurturing creativity is imperative.
Curate to Create: Tailor your environment, your inputs, your social circles, and the media you consume. Good quality sources of inspiration have always fueled creativity. But in today's digital age, taking the reins of the media you consume is not a luxury, it's a necessity. What seeps in, shapes what flows out.
Ideate Deliberately: Great ideas don’t dawn upon us by sheer luck. Ideation is a skill, a craft that can be honed. Learn how to get better ideas by creating a deliberate practice for ideation with strategic and structured thinking, and unconscious processing.
Take the Plunge: Chances are, you already have ideas. There's a project, a concept, a creation you’ve always dreamt of doing. Yet, the fear of rejection and the overwhelm-induced procrastination are holding you back. Tomorrow is not guaranteed; in a world like ours, creativity takes courage; it needs bravery. But brave is not the one who lacks fear. Brave is the one that acts in spite of it. So go do it. Take action. Regret is a terrible friend.
If you don’t carve out a space for creativity in your life, life will surely not carve it out for you.
The chaos of modern living may be exhausting, but within the noise, there’s beauty to be discovered, a creative pulse yearning to be released. And as you navigate your day-to-day, feeling that unyielding craving for creativity, remember, it isn’t a flaw. It’s a testament to your humanity, a signal from your body and mind guiding you towards fulfillment and happiness.
Be sure to listen.
And go create something.
I write weekly about my learnings and insights on human creativity and how to hone and enhance our creative practice through technology and AI.
I teach you how to:
Improve your curation 🔍
Boost your ideation 💡
Enhance your creation ✍️
Amplify your reach 📢
so you can grow a brand and thrive in the rising creator economy.