The title of this post could also read:
“2 things I eliminated from my life that made me happier”
In both cases, the thing that I eliminated took time away from my day, but more importantly they used up a significant amount of my emotional reserves. Here are the two items and a little bit about my experience with each:
News from any source over radio or television:
It is funny to hear some of the responses when I tell people that I do not pay attention to the news. A very common response is that people assume that I have chosen to be ignorant and uninformed, but I do not see it that way. I feel like the decision was made because I was tired of letting people who say they are reporting the news fuck with my well being. In 2008 / 2009, I became a very reflexive to the news story of the day. Looking back on it, I believe that some of it had to do with the stories that were on the news each night about the financial collapse in housing and the following recession and some of my deeper worries I shared in the Scarcity versus Abundancy post.
The financial news, my fear’s associated with a scarcity mindset and trying to get a business established that allowed me some financial security all combined for a pretty big pot of anxious days. I remember watching the news and spending time thinking about how the latest jobs report might impact the number of new clients I got, or how the foreclosure rate in Kentucky might impact my ability to sell our townhome and relocate if necessary.
That general response to the news continued to grow, until it started to dawn on me that all the time I am spending considering things that I have no control over – is lost time I have to spend on my work and with my clients.
I wish I could say that this observation happened in one enlightened moment, but the truth is that I found myself not turning on the news all day long (I literally listened to Bloomberg radio all day other than when I was with clients.. wtf) and gradually I did not crave their messages at all.
I hear people say that they haven’t drank a soda in years, then when they try it’s so repulsive because the sugar is just too much. I am just about to that place with news, I even turn off NPR when I get in the car if Nikki has had it on.
It’s amazing how my attitude towards others has changed through this. When you are no longer told daily that you should fear others, for one of many reasons, how easy it is to start noticing all the good that exists in the world too. By in large, I believe the world is full of great and loving people, but you never know if you watch the news – they don’t want you to think that way.
Today, it’s music or podcasts that I’ve chosen as positive inputs to my life.
Facebook is a little bit different, in that I’ve found that I am not using it on a daily basis. We’ll see where this ends up over the next several months. I wrote about giving up Facebook earlier in the year in the post “Facebook and Faith“.
I believe that one of the biggest negatives associated with facebook is when it creates a constant internal awareness or worry about what your friends are thinking about your latest status update. Just yesterday I saw a friend who made a comment about something she saw, then shortly after she came back and explained herself and why she wrote the previous status update.
The constant mental chatter about what others are thinking is exactly why I had to give up Facebook for a period. I started to think that maybe I would post something that offended someone, or would get me in trouble or ….
It was an unhealthy activity. So as a challenge from our pastor, I gave up Facebook for lent (he didn’t suggest Facebook specifically, that was my choice). I found that I liked it a lot and all those internal thoughts started to disappear, which allowed me to be happier, more productive and at ease.
Today, as I mentioned, I do use Facebook again. The ability to socially connect with others is incredibly rewarding for me, especially because so many friends and family I rarely get to see anymore. The one constant is that I have not put the Facebook app back on my phone and I won’t either – that at least requires me to sit at a computer and log in to the site. When I use the service, it has to be intentional and not some passive experience.
So there you have it. I gave up two things that gave me a decent amount of time back to my life. It not only gave me time, but it allowed me to clear up my head from worry and fear that was also taking away from my productivity and creativity.