The future will belong not only to the educated man, but to the man who is educated to use his leisure wisely.
-C. K. Brightbill
What do the Internet (Facebook / Youtube / Twitter), television, newspapers, film and radio have in common? These are all forms of mass media. If you spend your free time passively consuming mass media, it is likely to be disappointing in the long-run. Mass media consumption requires very little psychological energy, and rarely helps you grow. Its purpose is not to make you happy. It is (usually) to make someone else money. And by passively consuming the same information as everyone else, you are likely to think like everyone else.
As technology continues to improve, it is becoming easier than ever for you to spend your free time passively, living vicariously through the creations of others. An example would be getting home from work and deciding to watch television or Youtube videos instead of creating something of your own. You are stagnating during your free time when you could be growing. This is okay occasionally, as you need time to relax and recover after work. The problem is when it becomes a daily habit (e.g. watching television for 4-5 hours per day).
Create Healthy Habits For Your Free Time: Mass Media Rehab
By using your free time to create and grow, instead of passively consuming, you will find yourself living a more meaningful life.
Create your own content: You wouldn’t be reading this blog post if I hadn’t started LifeEvolver.Com four years ago. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever to create your own content and get instant feedback. For example, you could start your own a blog or create videos on Youtube today. Immediate feedback from the online community could help you improve and refine your talent. This type of instant feedback wasn’t available to artists 50 years ago. And don’t forget to reach out to friends and family for feedback as well.
Examples: Write your own book, create your own movie, start your own blog, create a video on Youtube
Become an active contributor: You can continue to use mass media, but become an active contributor. The Internet is the easiest form of mass media to participate in. Did you know that only 1-2% of website visitors actually contribute content? This is the case for Wikipedia and most other websites (Benkler 2007). If you have a valuable opinion, or are an expert on a subject, why not share it with others? You might be surprised how much feedback you start getting, how many interesting people you meet along the way, and how good it feels to contribute to a greater cause. You can help support online communities by content, contributing feedback, comments, and ratings to websites.
Examples: Create an article on Wikipedia, comment on a blog post, rate a Youtube video, edit a spelling error on a Wikipedia article
Get away from mass media: As with your work, it’s healthy to create a daily ritual of disconnecting from your home computer and television. There are plenty of leisure activities which do not require the passive consumption of mass media.
Examples: Play a sport, learn to play an instrument, create art, create music, exercise, join an improvisation group
Create goals for how you use your free time: Choose goals that are intrinsically rewarding. This means that you enjoy the process of reaching your goals. Also make sure that your goals are challenging, have clear objectives, a clear timeline and performance criteria.
Example: Let’s say that you decide to create a leisure time goal of reading one book per week. Choose books that you enjoy reading, and you will enjoy the process of reaching this goal. Your goal would be “I will read one book per week of at least 200 pages for the next three months, starting on April 1st and finishing on June 30th.”
Creating Healthy Work and Leisure Habits
Escape the Rat Race: Change Your Mind or Take the Emergency Exit
How can you escape the rat race? Should you change your job? Or can you keep it, while making smaller changes to your daily habits and ways of thinking? This mini-book explores both options, and teaches you when each is appropriate for escaping the rat race.
Creating Alternate Sources of Income During Your Free Time
Are you interested in creating alternate sources of income during your free time? Check out my other mini-book Modern Moonlighting:
Modern Moonlighting: Keep Your Day Job, Make Extra Money, Do What You Love
How can you create alternative sources of income while keeping your day job? This mini-book teaches you how to start moonlighting and gain more independence from your job.
- Benkler, Y. (2007). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. 1ST Edition. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
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