Last week I challenged myself to spend time away from the vortices of Facebook, Netflix, and other stupor-inducing applications/websites/black holes, of which there seem to be more and more everyday. As I begin an extended period of time off from work, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into the trap I’ve fallen into many times before, of wasting away days on the couch, to then end up feeling sluggish and entirely unproductive, a useless and uninformed member of society. I’ve had this need lately, a drive to get up, get out, do more, learn more, experience more. New experiences, people, knowledge – these things don’t show up at your door, you have to get out and take them for yourself.
This self imposed assignment was great in a number of ways. I learned new things, had new experiences, and most importantly – I actually did things I’ve been saying over and over that I’m going to do, but never got around to doing (probably because I was so “busy” spending hours on Facebook and bingeing on Netflix).
The importance is obvious of the search for knowledge, experience, growth, pursuing things that are important to you, and continuing in the general forward motion towards greater heights. However, I also want to take a minute to provide a defense for the other side, that of inactivity and stagnancy, which I believe also have value.
I use this term, “numbness”, that I realize has some negative connotations. The idea of feeling nothing, turning off or ignoring feelings, running away from problems that need to be faced, this is not the concept I wish to defend. Rather, the notion of stillness, emptying your mind, and/or deciding for a certain amount of time to shift your focus away from the stresses of your life. This is necessary for one’s mental and emotional well-being. Not to be used as an avoidance tactic, but finding a time and a space in which you can allow yourself a break, and give yourself permission to escape, put aside your worries, and recharge.
Find what works best for you to rejuvenate your mind and spirit. It may be meditation, reading, watching TV, spending time outside, volunteering, playing with puppies, playing video games, or any combination of things. If at the end of that activity, you feel calm and ready to re-attack the more difficult areas of life with purpose and focus, by all means take the time you need to do it. Don’t let others to make you feel “lazy” or “unproductive” if your down time happens to be playing video games or watching TV. The idea that different ways of regenerating suggest various personality traits is missing the point. Being someone who meditates doesn’t necessarily make you more “spiritual” or self-actualized than anyone else. Being someone who finds peace in watching TV doesn’t necessarily make you lazier than anyone else.
You know what will benefit you, and provide you with the best defense in tackling life’s everyday hardships and stressors. And you will also find the balance of how often and how long your times of departure from reality need to be. So, you do you.