Suppose you had a blog post to write today. Suppose further that you wanted to write about what was most important to you. What would you write about?
Have you ever made a list of your most important values? If you have, have you tracked whether you spend your time pursuing those values?
How hard is it for us to spend our thinking time and doing time - the actual things we think about and do from the time we get up to the time we go to bed - on what we believe is truly important and valuable? And how much of our time and our thoughts are prescribed by others? (Would things be changed if we added dream time to the thinking calculation?)
How many of you would keep going to work if you were suddenly given a stipend of $100,000 a year for life? Pause a bit and think about the answer . . .
If you stopped working, what would you do? Would your life be caught up in stuff you 'have to do' because of stuff you own that needs attention (paying your bills, repairing your car or RV or boat, or iPhone, etc.)? Would you be influenced in what you did by what other people would think? Would your choices come from television shows, movies, and commercials? Or would you create options based on your most important values?
And even if you believe your work is basically worthwhile, how much of what you do at work is truly important and how much is wasted time? We only have so many hours to spend on earth. How can we spend them to best effect, whatever that means to you. Do you know what that means to you? [You mean you didn't stop to answer this? You really don't have time to figure out what's most important to you?]
Do you set your agenda based on your values, or does the media set your agenda? Or do annoying people around you set your agenda? Do people's reaction to what you do or say affect your agenda?
Have you ever made a diary of the topics you discussed with people in a day and then determined which topics were media inspired (like health care, the Olympics, global warming, the Hunger Games, Iran, the Euro, Rihanna, or the latest tragedy in the world covered by the media) and how much was inspired by your life quest? (Well, if you talked about health care because you were sick, that isn't necessarily media inspired, unless you then talked about the health care system.)
Having a few days with little internet connection and little other access to news, I started asking myself questions like these. We talk so much about the importance of freedom, yet how many of us have much freedom? How many of us know what we really want to do, have come up with options that weren't planned by marketing teams trying to figure out ways to get into our wallets or into the voting booth with us, or otherwise set our brains' agendas?
And if you were to track how your thoughts were influenced by the media, would that be an original act, or would it be influenced by reading this blog?
Obviously, being influenced by others isn't, by itself, a bad thing.
But we shouldn't be ping-pong balls bouncing back and forth from headline to headline. Rather we should develop some basic sense of who we are and what's important and when a passing idea will help us get where we want to go, it's fine to grab it and use it. Or even when it causes us to question where we want to go. But that shouldn't be happening five times a day or even five times a week. Cutting off from 'the media' for a few days is healthy. Anything really important we'll find out about when we turn it back on. The rest we can do without. . .