So many dysregulated eaters are also folks who feel a pressing need to stay busy all the time. Not just busy doing anything old thing, mind you, but filling their time with properly productive endeavors. Sadly, many are potentially or highly creative individuals who have let their need to be productive co-opt their creativity. In order to honor their imaginations and inventiveness—and curtail mindless eating—it’s important to understand the difference between being creative and being productive.
Productivity certainly may be pleasurable, but it can also be enormously tedious and stressful. Productivity is all about working hard and achieving goals. Maybe they’re small goals, like scrubbing the kitchen floor, or large ones, like developing a budget for your home or business. When we’re productive we feel as if we’re doing something to better ourselves, family, workplace, community or the world. The point in productivity is to get things done. Sometimes they’re only things that we see (like cleaning a dirty toilet), but often part of what we value about being industrious is having an end product that we can display to others who will praise us for how well or how much we’ve done.
Alternately, creativity is about deriving pleasure in the moment, doing something for ourselves alone—writing a poem in your head and never bothering to put it to paper, or choreographing a dance to go with your favorite song. Creativity is about not always knowing how something will turn out or even caring very much. Less about destination than journey, it’s a way to put some of what’s inside us out there. Whereas productivity is about outcome and having something to show for all the time you’ve spent, creativity is about the present, without thought for tomorrow.
As you might notice, these are polar processes. The truth is that if you want to be creative, you may need to set aside the oft overrated concept of productivity, and occasionally chuck ends and means and outcomes and goals out the window. You can’t be fully present to the joys of creating if you’re worrying that people will think you’re wasting time. When you’re being creative, you need to forget about where you’re going and how things will be when you get there. That’s the whole point of creativity: telling your mind that it’s okay to goof off and do any old thing or, better yet, do any new thing.
I’m a staunch believer that one of the most joyous ways to divert yourself from mindless eating is to stop pressuring yourself to be productive and, instead, lean in towards allowing yourself to be creative. Recharge your batteries with creativity, not food.