As I’ve reached middle age, my life is lived through an altered lens. I think anyone who has lost someone will have some recognition of this. I seek to live a better life. Not in the sense that I’m chasing the unattainable, but in the sense that I try to recognise those things that aren’t making me happy, or enriching life’s over all experience.
One of the most common things I’ve noticed, due to my altered perspective, is how many people watch life, rather than live it, and indeed I was one of these people (sometimes I still am).
It’s useful to check in with yourself every now and then, to make sure you’re actually living life, not just witnessing it from the sidelines.
Here are some thoughts to help you consider if you’re satisfied with how you’re you living your life:
Social Media – I’ve written about social media before, you can the article here. This one is a double-edged sword. It can provide amazing communal support, a means for meeting like-minded people, provide opportunities for learning and research. It can connect people who feel unconnected, which is a great thing.
But it is also a connection with great limitations. What us humans actually seek are real and meaningful connections – not virtual connections.
It is a constant flow of information that can be like a vortex that you can’t escape from. And sadly, sometime’s people aren’t honest.
If you can’t wait to get online and see what all your ‘friends’ are up to, you probably need to recalibrate. Work out how much time you spend looking at other people’s photos and commit to actually seeing these friends in real life for that same amount of time. It’s a sure fire way to guarantee you’re actually living life, not watching it.
Television – Is your TV on for most of the day? Do you plan your life around the box set release of the latest drama series? Are you addicted to a television program and forget that the characters are just that? (Errrrm, Patrick from Offspring anyone?)
Ask yourself why you have so much invested in these ‘people’? I’ll admit, I felt real remorse when Patrick died, but it was also my aha moment. When ‘Patrick’ died, Offspring and I broke up. It was liberating. Try it.
Video games – so when the Wii first came out, everyone was enthralled. It’s amazing, you can play tennis, do yoga, go bowling, play soccer…the list is endless. And all in the privacy of your own lounge room.
The one flaw with this is, well, it’s all in the privacy of your own lounge room. If you want to play tennis, call a friend, go with your partner or your child. Same goes for yoga, go to a class, you might meet a real person, who you actually like! You get my drift.
As for Candy Crush. Just go to bed, get some sleep and stop sending me invitations to play it with you. If you really want to connect with me, let’s have a coffee.
Magazines – ok, I confess, I am a total mag junkie, but I also have the legitimate excuse that it’s part of my work. But nonetheless, I have wasted (and will probably continue to waste) hours of time reading magazines. I especially like the aspirational home and lifestyle magazines, so yes, this advice is directed 100% to myself.
There are so many more interesting things to spend my time on, than looking at photos of other peoples homes. And I am well aware, when these photos are taken there is an army of stylists on standby to pick up after the children, sweep up after the dog, touch up the lady of the house’s make up. It’s not real, but it is addictive.
The biggest issue with all this voyeurism is that it generates comparison. Even though in our conscious minds we know the characters aren’t real, nor the scenes that have been created, or the impression someone is trying to make on Facebook with their montage of photos.
None of it is real. But it does generate real thoughts. Theodore Roosevelt once said that ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ We make assumptions about others’ greatness and compare it to the worst parts of ourselves.
Try not to. Life is passing you by when you do this.
Forget about looking outwards. Look inwards, you’re much more interesting.