A Distraction of the Largest Magnitude

For seven and a half years, I have not had television in my home. And honestly, if I had a choice, it would stay that way. Actually, if it could have three, maybe four channels of my choosing, it would be okay. But as is, I pretty much despise it. (My future roommate has a TV and cable, so obviously, I will be making a huge adjustment to my life.)

I dislike that it seems so many just accept as gospel truth the side commentary that accompanies what is considered news. (Part of this is the lack of critical thinking skills of many.) At one time, news could be dependable as being objective. Today, even standard reporting comes from a spin. Take the same event, spin it according to the channel’s primary political bent, and, voilà – you have multiple “factual documentation” on the same event.

(For the record, I consider myself a moderate with SOME conservative leanings. Don’t think for a moment that some strains of conservative thought are safe from my contempt. Having said that, liberalism isn’t in the clear, either. Also, for those who are wondering, I voted third party this time around, knowing full well that it would be “futile”, save for my clear conscience.)

The programming in general is fairly lackluster. There are a few exceptions. I do purchase seasons of my favorites when they are released. I’ll gladly spend the extra dollars to support shows I like. And I’ll definitely binge watch these DVDs once purchased. That might seem like defeating my conviction of not watching TV, but on this I am selective about what and when I watch.

One the reasons I dislike TV so much is the huge time suck versus the opportunity cost of viewing….for hours at a time. I remember when a former roommate had Direct TV, on my days off from work I would wake up at noon, and watch mindless “educational programming” until 2:00am. I would’ve been better off playing video games, which I likewise don’t do. I’d much rather spend my time reading, writing, talking with friends, heck – even participating in social media (don’t get me started) seems to me has more benefits than digesting stuff that seems to have a literal “programming” agenda behind it. (Does it not bother us that we call our entertainment “programs”? What exactly are we being programmed to or for?) When I read, I feel more engaged and alive. I’m aware of processing going on in the grey matter between the ears. It seems like I have more of a choice in how I process, or even if I want to process it like the author wants me to. Granted, just like changing the channel or turning it off, I can always stop or abandon. But I can always go to another book I know I’ll like. I realize I can do the same things with TV, but the quality just isn’t the same as MY IMAGINATION. That’s why I prefer writing as a form of entertainment, too. Maybe no one will ever read it save myself, but at least I can enjoy the process of writing and being entertained myself.

So, I’m kind of facing my new living arrangements when I’m fully moved in with some respectable fear and trembling. I don’t want to succumb to bad habits. This is something I feel a personal conviction about. I want to be a good housemate to my friend, and spend time with him. But I am going to need to gird up my intentions so as not fall for the distraction of the largest magnitude.

Intention vs Resolutions – an Addendum to Goals Setting

[This is a little add on to my January 1 post on goal setting that I believe complements that material.]

It is January 3rd….if you have not declared your Resolutions, might as well give up. You are a loser. It’s gotta be done on January 1st, at the first second after midnight, or it won’t work. And everything must be carried out perfectly. No leftover Christmas goodies for you, Bub. Don’t you dare overspend on your grocery budget. Had an exasperated thought toward your kids? You blew it. Might as well wait for December 31st to begin again. Can’t tarnish your perfect record, now, can we?

Heard this before? This is part of why resolutions don’t work. An All or Nothing mindset. It totally goes against human nature. We are dependent upon the idea of taking actions to fix us. I do believe that creating healthy habits in our daily lives contribute to our success and well being. I’ve been working on a handful of habits daily since August 1st of 2016, and have seen a lot of success. I’ve started small, and have added to each habit, little by little. And I have had added habits over time. I haven’t been perfect with them, and I don’t beat myself up when I’ve botched it. However, even more important than the effort put into the habit, is the intention behind the habit. But we need to bring a kind of filter to our actions, a kind of gentle spark. And that spark is Intention.

Intentions have a compassionate energy behind them. They are not tied into the success of an outcome. They ask that we bring some mindfulness to our actions and make efforts to do our best. We can have a plan and work the plan. But when we get off track or take a misstep, or outright fail, we forgive ourselves….AND START AGAIN. We can even show some forbearance toward ourselves. We can know that this action is not part of the plan, and we can not muck around in the guilt and shame that comes with it. The next moment is brand new. Start again. Socrates said, “The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

When you walk with intention. You have a subdued focus that filters your actions. It’s good at the beginning of goal setting to harness some of that passion and determination that comes with the initial thrill of carving out your intentions. The key word is harness. A harness is gear that is used for controlling an animal. Have the passion. It’s good and necessary. It’s a kind of fuel. But, keep it in check. And don’t let it run rampart over your confidence when you get off track.

And guess what?

You’re gonna get off track. You’re gonna misstep here and there. Unless you are an alien. I’m pretty sure my target audience is human. Therefore, be kind to yourself when you sway, or outright fail. Start again. Keep your head, and start again. It’s okay. You are allowed to do that. Really, you are. If you are concerned about what others might think, it’s not their fight. It’s yours. Actually, think of it as a walk, a journey. You are going to a different place than they are. You might have a similar goal or desire a similar outcome, but you’re going to have a different route to get there. Own up to your meanderings, and get back on the track, and resume walking. One step at a time. Drip.Drip.Drip.

Disclosure: today’s post was inspired from the app Calm. Today’s Daily Calm session (January 3,2017) was titled Intention, and I definitely borrowed some of the quotes and phrasing from it. I wholeheartedly recommend this app for mindfulness practice. I gladly pay $39.99 for the yearly subscription, it’s worth every penny.