How do you spend your down time? For most of us that translate into: What do you do with your evenings and weekends? Do you spend it getting loaded, hanging out with people who are going nowhere and doing nothing, binge watching your latest find, surfing the internet, getting lost in social media or gaming until long after everyone else has gone to bed? All of that is life you'll never get back. It's a recipe for superficial and unhappy relationships. It's a great way to never really go anywhere and for never really having a life that winds up being very fulfilling or meaningful. Most of us do out of habit. It's what we grew up with. It's what we know. The main purpose it serves for us is distraction.
What does distraction do for us? It takes the edge off our day. It keeps us away from the things that bug us. Those things might be annoying, aggravating, worrying, painful or just stressful; but they're things we'd rather not deal with for the moment or ever. It's an easy way to do nothing and to be comfortable enough to stay on the plateau of modern life. We usually think of it as practically the definition of “happiness,” even if we remain quite a bit less than happy.
Distractions have always been with us, but it's gotten so much easier with technology, modern transportation and a bit of extra money for almost all of us. What did people do before all this? They actually spent time talking to each other, working on things together or on crafts and handiwork by themselves. They read to themselves or each other. In other words, they built their relationships, made useful things, developed practical skills and enriched their minds.
We all need to spend some time on a regular basis, preferably every day, doing things that bring us together, develop our skills and engage our minds to grow, to be healthy and to be happy. Distractions are junk food and the quality of our lives suffer from a steady super-sized diet of it. Perhaps it's become something of an addiction for you. What do you want to do to try changing things?
I love to read. You can go almost anywhere and learn almost anything reading. You can meet great people from the past and enjoy other interesting people, places, cultures and times. I'm convinced it's a great way to get started with seeing a bigger world and building yourself up. Taking up a hobby that involves building skills with your hands is also rewarding. It keeps you busy and is at times a positive distraction in the sense that you're doing something constructive while getting away from your stressors for a little while.
We all desperately need to engage with each other. When I was growing up, most of us might not have spent a great deal of time actually talking to each other, but at least most of us ate meals together most of the time. According to studies, even that's now becoming rare. We're settling for relationship substitutes on social media and living more vicariously. Find some things to talk about together. Things that don't simply revolve around the news, the weather, sports, celebrities and entertainment. You may feel like that eliminates almost everything, but it doesn't even come close.
Take the time to start sharing the things you're grateful for or enjoy. Share goals, hopes and dreams from time to time. Share what you've learned, want to know or find answers to. What do you like or enjoy about each other? What do you want to do together? Get to know the other person's life, mind and heart. You can always talk about all the other stuff, but add some meat and vegetables to your conversational diet. Your relationships will thank you.
“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”
– Jim Carrey
Time is your most limited and valuable resource. Spend it well. Spend it on investing in yourself and your future. Spend it on each other. Get something of value for more of it.
Your happiness is waiting.