by Lynette Louise
Tired, bored, anxious, curious, depressed, fearful. What should I watch, listen to, play, read? In this period of unprecedented “shelter-at-home” orders, most of us are looking for things to do. Let me help you spend this interval being more intentional in your choices, so that you can be more authentic and successful going forward. Use this occasion for self improvement.
Distractions are helpful in keeping us from obsessing about the current situation, so the tendency is to find something engaging and indulge in that activity to excess — which is why I call it “bingeing.” If you are going to binge, why not choose activities and subjects to help you improve yourself? It is a great opportunity for self-reflection, for self-improvement.
The chaotic pace of life usually keeps us from having the time or energy to assess our lives — to see if we are happy with the path our lives have taken.
How Did I Get Here?
Before current stay-at-home guidelines, it was nearly impossible not to get dragged down; not to be swirling in the sinkhole of life’s distractions and responsibilities; not to be fooled by your own exhaustion as the bills and workday ethics of each culture sucked the average person's time and energy.
People complain a lot about what the media does to them and it is true. You are being controlled, lied to, and sold a bill of goods, by some. But more than the influencers you are being controlled by your own lack of purposefulness and self-awareness. Knowledge and intention are the cure. Heal your despondency, and your feeling of overwhelm, by befriending yourself.
Generally speaking, we get our values from our parents. Whether we rebel in a contrary manner or copy them outright, they are still the guiding post of our choices. We tend to live our lives as planned — but it is often planned by others and our circumstances. Often, we are not at the wheel.
Some of us are black sheep and live more independently than most. But even we are designed by the social networks we do or don’t find. Even outliers are caught up in their responsibilities; need food, shelter, clothes, soap, water. Even for the homeless, there are financial needs, medical needs, and legal pressures.
Out of Control...
It is insidious this snake's tail at the end of the day. Flicking us about and telling us how to relax. Too often, in front of the TV, mindlessly absorbing the worlds played out before us. But you know all this already. You have heard it all before. However, you couldn’t see the effects of your own habits because everyone is blind to their own plot -- until they step outside of it.
Still, it resonated in your subconscious. Some part of you heard the truth in the warnings but didn’t know what to do about the problem. The problem you couldn’t even see. So, you probably stopped reading, stopped listening. Or perhaps you were like me. Excited by the new ideas, shouting and sharing from the mountaintop for all the grass, trees, and two people listening to hear.
Living on a treadmill imposed by expectations leaves you feeling used up. Living out a routine is only freeing when the routine is one you choose and love. Take this opportunity to get control now, from inside your home, by choosing what you view. Be intentional about how you distract yourself and realize when that is what you are doing. Gain your freedom by staying at home. Become an individual by following the rules. And commit to our global society's health. We are all earthlings.
How to Begin Your Self Improvement
The first step is to become self-aware.
How Does Your Body Respond?
Let go of all preconceived ideas.
For example, if you wish to fall asleep after bingeing on Friends but are energized by laughter, maybe you should watch Criminal Minds instead. The concept extends beyond the usually understood psychology behind healthy shows. Some individuals are calmed when inundated by stimulating sounds and imagery. They may get more sleep after an action movie than a romance flick.
Some people become addicted to video games and lose track of time when playing. They may play for so long they harm their bodies through lack of sleep and bladder release. Other less competitive people may be easily satiated and stop after a game or two. Happy to have connected with online friends and ready to retire for the night.
Understand that some people get energy from exercise while others relax and fall asleep. You are a mixture of responses, and they are unique to you. When you watch a workout video, does it make you want to get up or go to sleep? Does watching the food channel encourage you to cook or eat, or for that matter, both? How about watching others shoot people in an action film, do you feel more relaxed or are there a built-up feelings of edginess and anger? Know yourself now and you will also know where you should put your attention.
Yes, there are “usual” responses to these things but there are also counter-intuitive ones. Consider the psychological effects of what you put into your focus, and you can see the importance of intentional bingeing. Bingeing is not bad. It is an opportunity to learn a lot quickly. It is an opportunity for an inexpensive staycation. But it does have consequences.
Are You Happy With Your Life?
You may not be currently working, but what were you doing before social distancing was required? Did you like your job, or did you just show up and go through the motions to get a paycheck? If you do not love how you were spending your days this “break” could be an excellent time to learn something new, for self improvement. At least you could explore other opportunities out there. Do you want to make a difference? What do you love? Everything doesn’t have to go back to being like it was before.
Who do you wish to be? The hero? The nerd? A saint or a sinner? Take a minute and think on this. Why did you choose the people you have in your life and do they still match you? Except for the people in your actual house you now have a vantage point to reconsider any relationships that are shaping you. Ponder this. If you don’t know the answers, seek role models and stories via your computer and TV. Watch to excess for your betterment. Find yourself in the social distance of this time.
Your Desires May Be Born of Habit Rather Than Self-Knowledge
Be aware of the timing.
Right now, you are sequestered indoors. Getting motivated to take action will only be healthy if you are able to generalize that into activities that can occur online from a safe, social distance.
Be aware of the difference between a desirable short-term effect and a desirable short-term effect that adds building blocks to your long-term goals. Both have a useful outcome, but the latter adds to the quality of your life. Know that your short-term goal is best when it also matches your desires for what comes next.
Stay at home binge watching while you social distance and change your life for the better. Take advantage of the problem, grow smarter. It is a time of change, have fun and use it for self
You now have a vantage point to reconsider any relationships that are shaping you. #relationships #socialdistancing
"We have been (and will continue to be) shaped by what we put in our heads." ~Lynnette Louise
You cannot be forced to think anything, though you can be coerced. If I am the one doing the coercing it will be to create a happier world for my grandchildren to raise their children in.
Does that resonate with your desires? Keep reading and I will tell you how you can use bingeing to get better.
Stop spinning your wheels and sticking with your habits. Here’s how to make a difference while sitting on the couch, watching movies, TV shows, and playing video games.
How Can I Change My Life Through Self Improvement?
After you take time to become self-aware, it is time to look at where to put your focus so that you emerge with a plan of becoming who you really want to be.
Align Your Newly Found Self-Awareness With Your Desired Outcome
Make sure your actions are congruent with your ultimate desired outcome.
For example, if you wish to feel romantic and connect on a deeper level with your partner, an action movie may be the wrong choice. Or, it may also be the right choice. It may be the correct choice for you since most action films include a love interest being defended. If your actual love interest is watching with you, then they have to be brought into the equation. Does he or she respond similarly? Would music and conversation get you closer to a deep connection than car chases and gunfights do?
There are no right or wrong answers here, only answers that lead to questions that bring more answers. Possibly playing a game together excites you both in the same way that being creative with someone can excite me.
Personally, if I don’t want to become infatuated with someone I am partnered with on a creative project, I cannot work on it excessively. I have to engage in two-person creativity in spurts. Perhaps you are the same with boredom. Many people have sex to fill the time and add some zing. But was that the next step you wanted to take, before the present step influenced you?
Apply What You have Learned for
If this period has taught us anything, it has taught us that we are globally intertwined. We contaminate each other. It is up to us to decide what we contaminate each other with. Unless you have decided to become a hermit in an orbiting space station, we all live here, on earth, together.
As you choose your shows and games, choose the ones that were made with integrity. Your version of integrity, not mine. These are some of the things I believe in:
- inclusivity and mental health,
- happiness heals.
So, this is what I do with that in mind:
- Build live comedy shows and internet projects on the subject of mental health.
- Staff projects with racial, sexual and different-ability diversity.
- Hire special needs people in order to share some awareness of not just their special needs, but also their special skill.
- Supply work — as well as exposure — for those who are so often maligned.
To me, the human race is the only race. My belief is that we need to partner with our professionals, not simply follow instructions. With that in mind, I created an internet series that travels the globe bringing alternative choices to families in need of mental health assistance. I did and do these things because of my version of integrity. If they resonate with you, seek out my work.
If not, what does?
Bring the Social Aspect into Your
What social issues matter to you? And, most importantly, why?
Apply what you have learned about yourself to this question. Be prepared to change your mind if your old choices no longer fit what you know to be true. Change into someone intentional and this home oasis period will benefit your moments, your days, and your future life. Self improvement will be your result.
It isn’t actually hard to be intentional but, for some, it is a new idea. Choosing with your new “intentional” version of integrity is also not that hard. You are already stuck at home. Do a little research on the Internet. Search out issues that matter to you and connect them to your leisure time choices.
For example, search:
- “Will watching this show benefit Harvey Weinstein in any way?” or
- “Did they support local businesses when making this movie?” or
- “Were any animals harmed?” or
- “Are the science facts accurate?”
Of course, you will get different answers since search engines operate like a debate class and give you both opinions. But that is part of you becoming informed and choosing your path. The result will be you building yourself into the person with the lifestyle you wish to be and have.
Once You Have Experimented, TRUST That You Now Know
Worrying over anything is counterproductive. You can always repeat the exercise and/or change your choices.
For now, just go with the craving your new mindset created and let go. Live happily and observe yourself being different.
Be intolerant of discomfort; that is how you know when you are veering from the path you wish to walk. When you feel some, make another choice. Then make a mental note (or actual note) and add that to your self-awareness diary. Enjoy growing.
Remember, you cannot be fooled, though you can be coerced.
Nobody learns anything without acquiescence, or at the very least mindlessness. Be mindful.
Be prepared to step out of your home when this is over as a ____________ person. (You fill in the blank.)
I could literally write a thousand pages on the subject of how to:
- know your own physiological shifts in relation to the influences around you.
- shape yourself with intention.
- ensure you love all the moments of your life.
This could be a long and very informative encyclopedia of how you can do you. But there isn’t time and I needed to do the next step for my life’s goal of Happy Humans.
Still, I hesitated to share in such a brief format because I feel the need to clearly and painstakingly teach this subject. Teach you how to free yourself from the expectations of others while committing to the joy of all.
But stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders have happened, and I realize we all need to know at least a little bit about bingeing for the better. This is important because nearly everyone is bingeing.
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you have altered."
Fortunately, humans have the ability to imagine and generalize their knowledge. They can build upon a subject and apply it to other endeavors as well.
This article could just as easily be about food, sleep, exercise, language, furniture buying. Not only bingeing. But I will leave the generalizing up to you. Because you, humans, are impressive. And, for us, a little bit of knowledge goes a long, long way.