I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Mostly about how I don’t have enough of it. There are so, so many things that I want to do and I usually cannot find the time to cram them all in.
Which is why it boggles my mind when I hear some people talk about how much TV they watch, and relay tales of binge watching their Saturday away or catching up on the latest scandal on CNN as their evening’s activities. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing the matter with watching an occasional movie or couple episodes of Big Bang Theory here or there. But I. personally, could NEVER make it an actual daily or even weekly practice.
TV is entertaining, no doubt. And I’m sure if I let myself, I could really get into Game of Thrones, or follow the Orange is the New Black saga with bated breath, or find a couple of new releases to patronize each weekend. But in all honesty, entertainment, especially mindless entertainment, is not productive. And when seeking entertainment becomes the main focus of your free time, you are losing out on so many awesome points of life!
But some people have become so accustomed to watching TV that they have no idea that there is a whole entire world beyond their 60″ Plasma, or that they themselves could create the type of life they so envy on the silver screen.
Instead of pressing play, you could:
Go on a walk. Especially with your significant other, kids, or friend. The fresh air is addicting, and you can have so many good conversations if you go with the people that you love. There have been so many great discussions that I’ve had with my friends as we meander the sidewalks or trails, and you come back refreshed and energized rather lethargic and blahhhh. Not to mention the obvious perk of burning rather than consuming calories.
Read a book. Even when a novel is entertaining you, it is making your brain process information, put ideas together, and decipher the meaning of new words. It is the best form of entertainment because it is relaxing yet still mind-expanding, especially if you skip the fiction and go straight for the self-improvement reads. Some great fiction reads are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Help, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. If you lean toward the non-fiction side (which you should at least every once in a while), I would recommend The Power of Habit, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and You are a Badass.
Join a club of some type. One thing that I have recently started up in the past year has been beach football. I have never played an organized sport in my life, but there is a league in my town and I, on a whim, decided to join. I love it! Joining something that fits a new or old interest not only keeps your zest for life alive, but it is an amazing avenue for meeting new people.
Learn to play an instrument or learn a new craft. Making music is an innately human way of expressing emotion. Even if you are not musically inclined, setting aside time to struggle and eventually master a new skill is not something to be sneezed at. When the mind is stretched it expands, and the more things you add to your toolbox the more valuable you become.
Create a second (or third, or fourth) stream of income. Think about it. You could either spend 1-4 hours a night wasting your time with episodes of Friends you have seen hundreds of times, or you could put your time and effort into something that could actually pay off. Enjoy crafting? Start an Etsy shop. Have a particular set of hard to master skills? Market them. Have a business idea? Actually start it. If it’s something you actually enjoy doing, the same amount of time will pass while giving you way more options in terms of money and connections.
Call a friend. How many times have to thought to ourselves “oh, I wonder how so-and-so is doing? We should catch up!” and then simply never followed through? Connections with other people are extremely valuable both for sanity and for creating a vast network of resources from which you can draw whenever necessary-IF you put the time in to create those reserves.
The trouble with the majority of options outside of the black box is that they take a least a minimal amount of effort. So many people like to think of their hours of diversion after a long day of work as a reward, when the truth is that real rewards come out of real effort.
Constant entertainment is taking the easy way out in life, and it makes you accustomed to the road less bumpy. Yet there WILL be parts of life that are not entertaining, and if you simply fall into the habit of putting blinders on and ignoring it because your reality muscles are in a state of atrophy, those bumps can prove to be disastrous rather than merely annoying. The most beautiful waterfalls are at the end of the unbeaten trail, and the best life experiences are best actually lived by you.
So the next time you are tempted to press play, put the remote down and step away from the boob tube into a realm of endless possibilities. Stop watching other people portray scripted exploits, relationships, and feats of grandeur, and go out and create your own! Life is meant to be lived, not watched.
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