Are you a consumer or a contributor?

14, Aug, 2015, by Seema Bhatnagar

In our day to day life, for majority of our needs we are dependent on others. For most of us, the meaning of consumption gets translated as wearable or eatables. Just by giving a deeper thought on the pattern of consumption, it can open altogether a new horizon of thinking.

The regular understandable definition of consumption means - to use for personal benefit or to enhance personal wellbeing. Going by this definition, each one of us is a consumer i.e. anybody who is consuming something is a consumer. Being a consumer is not something to feel bad about but it is something which can make you to think deeper about your level of consumption and how your consumption can actually influence the whole environment and how it affects your own mindset.

The exact opposite of consumption is contribution. A contributor is the one who actually contributes for the wellbeing of others and for personal satisfaction as well. These two terms, consumer and contributor, actually go hand in hand in our daily life, it is only a matter of paying good amount of attention to understand their occurrences.

To make it clearer and more logical, consumer means anybody who feeds on what system provides, while contributor means, the one who provides to the system.

Any system, where there are more consumers than contributors, becomes highly inefficient and less productive, and wears out soon. While a system which has more number of contributors than consumers becomes highly self-efficient, productive and long lasting.

The common systems of our life where we act as a consumer or contributor are family, office, business and teams we work with.

In family, one acts as a contributor, when an individual creates an environment of positivity and influence others with personal values and habits. As a consumer, when individual creates strain with others by getting angry and throwing tantrums, acting as an egoist and wants to rule others.

In office or teams, one acts as a contributor, by adding value to work by becoming creative and adaptable. These contributions facilitate the performance of others. While as a consumer, one sucks energy of others by being uncooperative, criticising others and constantly seeking ways to prove self better than others.

In any system, space or environment, being a contributor means how an individual is facilitating the output while being a consumer means one is adding a burden in one form or other by using the resources.

With this understanding of what it means to be a contributor or consumer, it can easily be realized that for majority of the times most people are wearing a hat of consumer, though it is difficult to accept personally.

Individuals who act as contributors emerge as natural leaders in their own space while consumers remain followers and create disturbance in the system. Being a contributor is a symbol of personal growth, because it is not possible to contribute unless one possesses sharpened skills, talents and great attitude towards life.

Reasons for a consumer mindset.

There could be several reasons for living with a mindset of a consumer, some primary reasons are given below:

#1 - Lack of vision about life.

Lacking a big vision about life saps your energy and enthusiasm for almost everything in life.

#2 - Lack of confidence.

Lacking confidence in self for personal skills prevents you to come forward and contribute.

#3 - Lack of initiative.

It is a common sight that there are very few people who come forward and take initiative towards doing something beyond their call of duty, majority people feel fear of hard work and failure and let go opportunity of leaping in to a contributor role.

#4 - Lack of interest.

Lacking interest in whatever job you are performing, pulls you in a zone of negativity and creates discomfort while undertaking simple tasks related to work.

Give a deeper thought and see what is that which is making you disinterested in your job. Check out the most popular post, How to develop interest?, to take some corrective steps in this direction.

#5 - Lack of personal values.

Not knowing what is really important for you in life and what personal values you believe in becomes a reason of adding negativity to your thoughts and actions in life.

#6 - Lack of inspirations in life.

Inspirations are important for everyone because it tells that there could be a higher state to achieve in life. Lacking inspirational role model in life makes you believe that your own world is the perfect one, but this robs you off the opportunity to think beyond your own comfort zone.

#7 - Lack of sensitivity towards others.

Doing only what is beneficial for you is something very insensitive but this is what we all have learnt since childhood as a survival technique. This attitude takes away the possibility of establishing bonds with others and one ends up living as a strong consumer within a system

One the first go, these reasons might not feel as relevant to your role as a consumer, but on giving a deeper thought these will help you to reach a conclusion that these are some subtle reasons which are compelling you to live like a consumer in whatever space you are.

Which category you belong to?

Give an honest introspection about it and see, what are those roles in your life in which you are acting as a consumer, it could be as a parent, spouse, boss, peer etc. If you find yourself in a consumer role, most likely your happiness factor or your moment to moment cheerfulness will not be that high, simply for the reason that you are not using your full potential. As a consumer, somewhere deep down you must be feeling a bit suffocated with an inextricable frustration.

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. ~ Khalil Gibran

Nature and humans

A perfect example of consumer and contributor would be of a relationship between nature and human beings. With soaring figures of population across the world means, the number of consumers is rising, which means, fast depletion of resources i.e. water, land and fuels, over and above that additional burden of recycling the waste generated by consumers. This ultimately concludes to the fact, faster depletion of resources, unsustainability of life on planet earth, more chaos and more negativity in environment.

The contributor in this case would be - who could minimize the usage of resources, by not producing waste and by not procreating further. Not procreating might sound a very shocking idea for many but if you have even a single child, it means you have added one more consumer to the system, doesnt matter which part (developing or developed nation) of the planet you live in. The decision of not having child depends upon your mindset, whether it is of a contributor or a consumer. Most of the married couples I have met, they have a keen desire to have altleast two kids to call themselves as a complete family, mind it, one should be son out of these two. Well, that will be a separate discussion altogether that most people want to have their heirs than any other dying need of having kids.

The idea of no procreation is to live like a contributor when it comes to your relationship with Mother Earth. If that sounds ridiculous or your sentiments or strong urges compel you to have atleast have one, then you should minimize your consumption in every possible way and live a simplest possible life, also teach your kids to consume minimum possible for personal needs. It might be difficult to follow but this is what is needed to be done by a contributor to Mother Nature.

Spirituality and consumption

The very essence of spirituality is to become a contributor in every possible way. It propounds that a simple life with minimum personal needs helps you to think beyond yourself which actually propels you to a zone of contributor.

When you have no personal needs you naturally start thinking of others and seek ways to bring harmony in the system. This idea might sound very simple and high but it is rejected by majority to be implemented in real life, simply for the reason that it needs high level of self-discipline and strong personal values.

My personal experience

For a good long part of my life, I have lived as a consumer, hardly ever felt myself as a contributor. I do not consider completing my assignments on time to qualify me as a contributor. To be called as contributor means, how I improved the problematic aspects of a situation, though I didnt add to the problem, but yes, I didnt contribute either. I have always done what is expected out of me and didnt think beyond that, which is just apt to be called as an average mindset.

Thinking deeper on this aspect, I reached to a conclusion that I was happier doing the assigned job because doing more means investing more time, efforts, energy and also inviting more trouble shooting while solving the problem. Though I was not lethargic but I was averse to the idea of working hard to bring minor change when things are looking fine. Probably, it was due to lack of enthusiasm towards work and on top of that my egoistic attitude.

I am fortunate enough to get in contact with certain people in my life, who have gone beyond what is expected out of them and became a reliable pillar for everybody around them. Despite interacting with them, unfortunately, I didnt feel inspired, rather ended up with a feeling that they are acting as superior to me, ohreally pity on me. This is how I lived as a consumer mindset.

In few instances of my life, be it work or relationships, I did act as a contributor, when I tried to solve the problems by walking extra mile, with a sincere feeling of improving the situation rather than earning brownie points. In all those instances, it added to my personal growth and others developed reliance on me for my skills and strength. It was truly a very uplifting experience.

With my constant efforts to bring simplicity in thoughts and life, I am making gradual progress towards becoming a contributor. I want to achieve a state of least essential consumption and maximum possible contribution to my surrounding systems. It is for sure not so easy to achieve but with persistence and determination I will surely reach there one day.

How to transcend from consumer to contributor?

Do you feel, living like a consumer, is a great way to live life? Do you think it adds long lasting happiness and joyfulness in your environment? You might feel temporary happiness but for sure, it cannot bring you a deep satisfaction which you need to become an individual with a great disposition.

Living as a contributor is like living in a different realm altogether and living like a consumer is nothing lesser than living a suboptimal life. Honing your skills and mindsets, inculcating personal values are some of the steps needed to proceed towards a realm of positivity and personal expansion.

For transcending to a role of contributor, one must walk extra mile and invest time and energy on enhancing personal capabilities. It is only when you reach the state of utilizing your full potential you would experience a natural metamorphosis to a contributor and life would feel easy, filled with joy and cheerfulness.

Some recommended posts to get you started on your metamorphosis are:

Ego - The tameable enemy.
Self-Discipline - 24 hours Meditation
Personal growth and development.
Live your best life.

Seema Bhatnagar
, Blogger, Writer, Life Coach and Founder of Abundance Thinkers, site for personal growth and development. Empowering people in achieving and living the best of personal potential.

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