The Emotional Rewards of Consuming vs. Creating

This AI transcription/summary was created on @November 18, 2023. Listen to the original recording here.


The speaker discusses the emotional rewards derived from consumption and creation, highlighting the similarities and differences in the feelings elicited by both activities. Consumption often leads to repetitive emotions such as elation from acquiring new items, but this can turn into a cycle of maintenance and potentially suppress growth. Creation involves struggle and release, culminating in interaction with the world. However, using visualization and manifestation practices can provide a shortcut to emotional rewards without action in consumption, but can hinder the motivation to complete creative work.

The speaker advocates for recognizing the importance of actions in creation for growth and the intrinsic rewards from improving one’s skills and output regularity, rather than seeking external validation.


This one might be a bit more esoteric in nature, and I hopefully can parse it out in a clear way. It has to do with the emotional reward or the emotional result of whatever we do. And if we break it down into two simple categories of consuming versus creating, when we consume things, a lot of consumption is not for nutrition, it's for the emotional reward. And the emotional reward is very much hinged on...

It can be hinged on chemistry, reactions, but at the end of the day, how that manifests inside of us is as an emotion. And these emotions don't really range, or let's say they don't have a great spread. It's over and over again the same emotions. I won't name them, but I think you know what they are.

When you buy something and you feel elated, and it feels like this new relationship, this fresh romance with an item, with a piece of clothing, with an artwork, with a piece of clothing, with an artwork, with a gadget. And it's like living through the cycles of a relationship really quickly. Honeymoon phase immediately goes into, now it takes work to actually maintain this. And when we create, there's also an emotional reward.

It may also be elation. It may also be more like giving birth. I don't know what that's like, but if we just take it as a soft metaphor, there's usually some struggle involved with creating. Then there's the release of something.

And then there's kind of watching how it interacts with the world. And there can also be a lot of fielding for compliments, or fielding for interpretations, or constructive criticisms, whatever it is. And all of these things tie back to a set of emotions. Now how this is relevant to showing some of the differences between the two, which I think are incredibly important to recognize, is that emotions don't necessarily require the exact action that you take.

You can be elated by many different things. And some of those things will cost more or cost less. They require a different set of parameters, a different set of instigations. A different set of motivations.

But the emotional reward actually looks really similar. It might hit at a different scale, but it's a very similar thing. And what that means is, especially in the day and age of a lot of people a lot of people practicing more mindfulness, or even let's say mindfulness skewed toward manifestation, toward visualization of an outcome, I think that parsing this out can actually offer a really interesting solution. Which is only a solution when applied in a certain way.

It becomes its own obstacle in another. And that's the nuance of any practice, is that it is contextual. It is completely contextual, as is everything. Because we are contextual creatures, as far as we know, we are very contextual creatures.

And while it's fascinating to think about absolutes as a sort of contrast or foil to all of the relativism that exists, or that we try and navigate, I think the proof is out that we're mostly contextual and associative. So anyway, the hypothesis here is, or let's say not even the hypothesis, what I've put into practice in my own life is, and what I don't always do, although this is an attempt at helping myself to concretize the importance of doing it this way. When we are, you know, when I think about like what people spend all of their time and energy on, it's a lot of it is making money, and that money is then spent to buy things or have experiences. And those experiences and things are really, let's say, portals for emotional rewards.

And this cycle can take up an entire life, all the time that you have, all the energy that you have. And so when we think about these manifestation practices or visualization practices, it's actually a way to shortcut to the emotional reward without having to do anything. It's actually a way to shortcut to the emotional reward without necessarily having to buy the object or have the experience. Now, in the lane of creating, this is a great setback, because if you are employing the same practices of visualization and manifestation, but actually you really do need to follow through on a set of actions to put something out there, because that's how you actually connect to other people and build your whatever it is that you're trying to build, your brand, your style, your rhythm.

You need to actually go through the steps and put it out there. And if you receive the emotional reward immediately from the get-go, you will not have the motivation to get it out there. Now, there's a different set of visualizations that you can engage with, which are visualizing each step, maybe working back from the goal, but not giving yourself the emotional reward of giving yourself the emotional reward of getting all the praise and getting all the network effect or whatever it is. Because if you do that well, if you visualize well, you won't need to make it anymore, because you will have felt that reward.

But in this world, there are concrete actions that we need to take in order to actually grow. Otherwise, we become very, very damned up or stagnant. So there's also within that, there's also an inference of adjusting what the emotional reward is related to, because the external validation of creation is its own kind of doom cycle, to put it bluntly. But there's emotional reward in improving one's skills or refining one's creations or hitting a certain cadence with your output, which is not related to the actual dropping of something and the reactions and the likes and all that.

But it's the feeling that you are showing up for yourself regularly. So it's this intrinsic versus extrinsic emotional reward. And therefore, I just wanted to make this note, because it's a really interesting, granular understanding of how we can actually we can break down these different correspondences. Or to put it more clearly, we have amazing tools at hand that don't require much.

They exist within us, which is a beautiful thing in a world where it seems like there's nothing is possible without heaps of money or heaps of technology. We can actually give ourselves We can actually give ourselves exactly what we need and save potentially a lot of time. This is on the consumption side, save a lot of time and resources that we can then put towards growth, towards executing our actions. And as I say this, I recognize my own habits of consumption, that so much of what I collect is not practical, it is emotional.

And while that has been a reward in of itself, at some point, it becomes compulsive, and no longer a vector of growth, but more a vector of suppressing growth. Because then you have to deal with all this stuff, you have to deal with the plane ride in between potentially getting sick, you know, you're in a foreign place, and you eat something and you get sick for a week. And all you were looking for was an experience or an emotion of excitement over novelty, excitement over meeting different people or having a different experience. And a lot of those things can be had right at home.

Now on the creative side, again, just to reiterate the difference, you actually are looking to grow through engaging with the world as a creator. As someone who is not just taking in but also arranging, digesting, and reencapsulating and birthing. And therefore, don't short circuit yourself by only seeing that as an emotional thing. No, there are actions involved and actions that you need to take in order to really feel a deeper sense of fulfillment of purpose or furthering a purpose.

I hope that makes sense. Let's see what the summary says.

Additional Info

Main Points

  • Consumption provides emotional rewards such as elation, akin to a new relationship, but can become repetitive and ultimately suppress growth.
  • Creating brings about different emotional rewards, which involve struggle, release, and interaction with the world.
  • Mindfulness and manifestation practices can shortcut to emotional rewards without needing physical actions or purchases.
  • Utilizing visualization in creation can de-motivate an individual if they emotionally reward themselves too early in the process.
  • The importance of concrete actions in creative endeavors is emphasized to truly connect with others and build a brand or style.
  • The speaker suggests adjusting the emotional reward to focus on the intrinsic benefits of improving skills and regular output rather than extrinsic validation.
  • Consumption patterns can become compulsive and act as a vector of suppressing growth.
  • The speaker acknowledges their own consuming habits as being emotionally driven, not always practical, and sometimes growth-suppressing.
  • Emotional rewards can be found at home, without the need for external or novel experiences.
  • The difference in consumption and creating is highlighted, where creation requires an engagement with the world and real actions for fulfillment.

Stories and Examples

  • The speaker equates the emotional reward of consuming to a short-lived, intense relationship that quickly transitions from a honeymoon phase to requiring work to maintain.
  • The creative process is likened to giving birth, involving some struggle, release, and the act of watching one's creation interact with the world.
  • An anecdote is given about habitual consumption patterns, where the speaker acknowledges their own behavior of collecting items for emotional rather than practical reasons, eventually leading to suppression of growth.
  • The speaker reflects on the potential downsides of seeking emotional highs through travel experiences, which might lead to illness and other practical issues, when such emotions could be experienced at home.

References and Citations

  • Nothing found for this summary list type.

Potential Action Items

Recognize and assess your own habits of consumption and creation to identify emotional patterns (2023-11-18)
Apply mindfulness or visualization techniques to discern emotional rewards without unnecessary consumption (2023-11-18)
Focus on intrinsic rewards in creative work, such as skill improvement and consistent output, rather than external validation (2023-11-18)
Ensure visualization practices in creation do not replace the necessity for concrete actions (2023-11-18)
Commit to real-world interactions and creations to foster true growth and fulfillment (2023-11-18)

Follow-Up Questions

  • What are effective strategies for managing the emotional rewards associated with consumption?
  • How can one balance the emotional satisfaction received from creation without hindering the motivation to produce?
  • In what ways can visualization be used effectively in a creative process?
  • Is there a method to differentiate intrinsic and extrinsic emotional rewards and favor the former?
  • Can the speaker provide examples of times when they successfully balanced emotional rewards and concrete actions in their creative work?

Arguments and Areas for Improvement

These are potential arguments and rebuttals that other people may bring up in response to the transcript. Like every other part of this summary document, factual accuracy is not guaranteed.
  • The assertion that emotional rewards from consumption and creation are similar might be debated, as some would argue they are qualitatively different.
  • The benefits of visualization as a substitute for actual experiences or possessions may be contested by those valuing tangible outcomes.
  • Critics might argue that intrinsic rewards do not always translate to motivation or fulfillment, especially for those driven by external validation.
  • Some may challenge the notion that consumption necessarily suppresses growth, arguing it can inspire and motivate under certain circumstances.
  • The idea that visualization can reduce motivation to create could be disputed by proponents of manifestation practices.

Related Topics

  • compulsive buying behavior
  • consumer behavior
  • creative process
  • emotional consumption
  • intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards
  • manifestation and visualization techniques
  • mindfulness
  • motivation in creation
  • personal growth
  • psychology of happiness


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