Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about human potential. More specifically, just how much of it we all carry within us. If you don’t already know, then let me assure you — it’s A LOT. We can literally do anything we set our minds to, so long as we want it badly enough. I’m certain anyone who has ever accomplished something great knew they could succeed with enough effort, so even if they failed once, or twice, or a dozen times, they just kept trying! We are no different than anyone else who has made their dreams a reality, but the problem today is, we are wasting this potential. And we are wasting it on Netflix, night after night (after night).
Let’s face it, after a long day at work, often doing something that isn’t inspiring us, it sometimes just feels easier to accept what is, have some dinner, and plop down on the couch to binge watch our favourite show. I’ve definitely been there myself. Sometimes, after a long day of using your brain, you simply don’t want to anymore, and the idea of shutting down and relaxing is a lot more appealing. What many of us don’t realize is how much of an addiction this really is. As with many other drugs in our society, our hours in front of the television are heavily normalized, even expected, to the point where if you were to say you don’t watch TV or have a Netflix account, people would be shocked.
I know that some of you reading this are thinking, “Yes, I do this, yes I know I’m wasting time, but it has become such a routine, it’s just easy,” or “This is how my partner and I enjoy spending time together.” While these are valid arguments, surely there are better ways to relax, unwind, and bond, right? The fact of the matter is, if we are that stressed and burnt out from our day-to-day lives, perhaps our lives need to re-examined. If we’re honest with ourselves, it becomes clear that we’re spending an awful lot of time “relaxing.” If we’re really honest with ourselves, we see it is actually time spent escaping. Just like any other drug, we often use it as a way to escape our feelings. Many of us are unfulfilled and unsatisfied; we feel like we are missing out on something, yet instead of doing something about it, we watch fictitious others living out the lives of our dreams. A little ironic, wouldn’t you say?
Imagine if, instead of spending three or four hours in front of the TV every night, you spent that time doing something for yourself, to better your life and focus on what truly brings you joy! That could be a minimum 20 hours a week, give or take, being spent purely on building the life you want. Whenever you say “I don’t have time,” think about how much time is completely wasted.
Here are 10 things you can do to benefit your well-being rather than wasting precious time in front of the TV.
1. Make a List of Your Grandest Hopes and Dreams
Write out a list of everything you want to accomplish for yourself. What have you always wanted to do, have, or accomplish? What have you come to accept will never happen, but is still there in the back of your mind? Write it all down, no matter how silly it may seem to you. It’s time to get real with yourself and identify what you want out of life. The sky is the limit.
2.Unleash Your Creative Potential
What is your favourite way to express your creativity? Do you enjoy crafting, blogging, painting, sewing, cooking, dancing, building, singing, playing an instrument, gardening, building, designing, writing? Whatever it is, do it! Spend some time every day doing something that you truly enjoy, something that lights you up and gets you using the parts of your brain that lie dormant during the work day. This is the time.
3. Host a Meetup
Do you ever feel alone or isolated, or like you don’t know anyone who shares your interests? Are you dying to meet new people who share your love for boardgames, anime, frisbee, or whatever it is that gets you excited? Check out Meetup.com and see what types of events are happening in your area. You’d be surprised by the volume and variety of groups out there. There are groups for people who love eating at new restaurants, hiking, playing any number of sports, meditating, or even just watching documentaries (I know, I know, but this is a more productive way to use the tube). And if you don’t see any that interest you, try starting a group of your own. This is a great way to connect with more people, and you just never know who you might meet!
4. Connect Deeply With Loved Ones
Make time for your friends and family. Call your mom. Call your dad. Call whomever is close to you (or better yet, go visit them). Have your best friends over for dinner. Arrange a nice evening walk with your partner. Whatever way you can connect on a more intimate level, do it!
“I don’t have time” is probably the most common excuse we make for not exercising. I’ve definitely used this one myself more than a few times, but I stand by the fact that you do have time, you’re just choosing to put it toward other things, like your favourite T.V. show. Go for a run, join a recreational sports team, start practicing yoga, or Tai Chi, or whatever it is that makes you happy, and I promise, you’ll be glad you spent that time moving your body rather than sitting for another few hours, especially if you have a desk job. Get out there and move!
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6. See What’s Up In Your Community
Every time I use the restroom in a coffee shop, I am amazed by how many cool events are going on in the community. Meditation workshops, salsa lessons, speed dating, crafting, painting, comedy, improv classes — there is so much going on, you just have to look. Like Meetup, this is a great way to get out there and meet more like-minded people. You never know where this might take you.
7. Start Cooking
So many of us avoid cooking with the same excuse we use to avoid exercising: “I don’t have time.” Well, I don’t need to state the obvious… you do! Spend time creating a meal that is nutritious and delicious, and you may just find you save time in the long run because you now have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. By cooking your own meals, you can be assured that what you are putting into your body is nourishing it well, and you gain a little autonomy in the process. This is important!
8. Learn a New Skill
Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Take an online course? Pick up an instrument? Now is your time, because remember — you have so much of it!
9. Practice Mindfulness
If your work stresses you out, and you watch TV to escape, you are avoiding the problem. By practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, you can learn how to let go of the stress and prevent it from bubbling up in the first place. Meditation is a proven way to help us manage stress, and contrary to popular belief, all it takes are a few minutes a day to enjoy its benefits. If you are new to this, there are many apps that can help get you started. Not into the apps? At the very least, make time for yourself to just sit down, take some deep breaths, and really tune in to your body — this is the simplest form of meditation out there, and it’s more beneficial than you may realize.
Maybe the thing that you are most passionate about is not a realistic way to earn a living — well, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Giving back feels so good, so find out what opportunities for volunteer work are available in your nearest city, and if any interest you, go lend a hand!
These are just a few examples of things that you could be doing instead of wasting time in front of the tube, but there are certainly many more. Choose what appeals to you and try doing it for one week to see how you feel and what comes of it. There’s a chance that you may have no idea how much of life you’re missing out on. I’ll do the same! And don’t worry — your favourite characters will still be there, waiting patiently for your return. This is more about breaking the habit and making time for other things in your life than preventing you from enjoying television altogether.
One day, or day one? You decide.
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