Happiness: Creation vs. Collection

I have an observation that I’ve been mulling for the last few days: unhealthy people collect things. Healthy people create things.

Naturally, statements like these always pivot on definitions, so when I say “healthy” here, I mean people who generally like themselves and feel happy about where they are in life.

This isn’t to say that all people who create are healthy, happy people; in fact I think a case can be made that frenzied creation is often a sign of serious imbalance (see famous creators).

But I think the overall validity does hold in the opposite direction. Those I know who are most unhappy are also the ones constantly searching for the next “thing” to add to their collection. They do this because they don’t like themselves, and each item they procure they hope will complete the puzzle to being the person they’ve always wanted to be.

Once you like yourself, and you are happy being alone with a book, or even just with your own thoughts, you are complete without things. At that point you are not defined by the things you have, and that’s what I call healthy. From there the focus shifts to, “What can I create?”

So, do you obsess over things? And if so, why? Do you feel they make you better–either in your own eyes, or in the eyes of others? Could you be happy without those things? Or, even a better question: would you still be you if you didn’t have those things?

[ Dec 6, 2009 ]

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