For a healthy person in a first world country, the number of things we could do is near infinite. And yet, everyone spends 90% of their free time watching TV, Youtube, TikTok, or scrolling social media.
That’s a travesty.
I don’t want to spend my life that way, and I don’t want you to spend your life that way. The first step in changing behavior is changing one’s belief. My hope is that this post will help you convince your brain that there is almost always something better to do than sitting alone at home on TikTok.
I want to provide a simple framework for thinking about the value of an activity. And by “value”, I mean a mix of enjoyment and deep-rooted satisfaction.
It’s broken into two sections: “with whom” and “doing what”. The lists are in order from most valuable to least valuable. The last two items in both lists are often of such low value that they are net-negative for one’s life.
I do have two disclaimers before diving in:
- This post is attempting to boil down a very big topic. It’s extremely nuanced. Simple frameworks aren’t that useful if there are exceptions for every aspect so use your own discretion. This framework is based on what I believe. You’re free to disagree.
- I have a Christian perspective. If you don’t, you can ignore line 1 in the “with whom” section and everything else should still be applicable to your life.
|1||With God||Prayer, worship, or anything you invite him into|
|2||With Inner Circle||Immediate family members or best friends|
|3||With Community||Two groups. Life-giving friends & family or people you’re helping|
|1||Active work*||Building, writing, creating, helping|
|2||Active self-improvement||Exercising, practicing a physical skill|
|3||Active play||Sports, surfing, hiking, ping-pong, etc.|
|4||Passive self-improvment||Studying, reading, journaling|
|5||Conversing||Texting, messaging, talking|
|6||Passive consumption (necessary)||Videos/shows, social media, or videos games for needed rest|
|7||Passive consumption (laziness)||Same as above but overconsuming or procrastinating. Scrolling social media, etc.|
*Within active work, the highest leverage task is the highest value task. Examples would be training others or automating tasks.
Some Helpful Questions to Ask
- On my deathbed, will I wish I had done more of this activity?
- In a month, will I even remember that I did this?
- When I think about who I “want to be”, does that person do this activity?
- Am I choosing short term ease for long term difficulty? (ie. eating poorly or not exercising now and living a shorter life or not being able to play with my grandkids because I’m unfit.)
- Isolation leads to sadness and depression. Yes, introverts exist, but even they do well with a support structure around them.
Optional Category: Where
|1||Outside||Get that Vitamin D baby!|
|2||Inside||Inside 4 walls|
In the words of my friend Douglas Day:
“God made the outdoors. Man made the indoors.”
More than that, studies have shown that spending time in nature significantly helps mental health. Sun exposure has lots of benefits from Vitamin D to sleeping better.
Activity Value Examples
Highest value activities
- Building a shed with your best friend
- Volunteering at a clinic or food pantry
- Playing basketball with your children
- Running with friends
- Worshiping God
- Playing video games with friends
- Watching a TV show with your spouse
- Practicing a skill or hobby
Potentially harmful activities
- Scrolling social media mindlessly
- Sitting alone binging 12 episodes on Netflix
This is something that has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. I don’t think I’ve fully fleshed it out or captured it here, but maybe feedback from this post will help me refine it. And in the mean time, it can be adding value to the world. If you disagree or dislike this post, feel free to ignore it or let me know what you disagree with.
My hope is that this genuinely stirs your heart in a way that makes your life exceedingly better.
For more of my thoughts, bug bounty tips, and AI-generated hacker art, follow me on twitter.