Dear 100 Hour Board,
What daily habits do you do (or want to do) that add value and meaning to your life?
I'm worried that I've become dependent on vain entertainment to pass time (e.g., Netflix, social media, video games, etc.) and am looking for more substantial activities to spend my life doing. Ideally things I can do regularly, as opposed to intermittent events such as travelling to exciting places, or attending big family/friend events such as weddings.
I imagine some answers are going to include church attendance and scripture study/prayer, and that's great. All of that has helped me to feel that life is meaningful before; however, recently it seems that doing these kinds of things is having less and less of an impact.
The best way to describe how I'm feeling is to borrow a concept from the movie Inside Out where Riley's core memories begin to fade. It's like all the core parts of my life that previously gave meaning to my life are fading. Even the ones that seemed to promise future value e.g., marriage, having kids, career success.
Dear Never Alone,
Habits I want to have:
- Eating healthier (a plate of just veggies sounds so attractive right now)
- Reading just for fun
- Writing in my journal/writing a journal-like email to myself
- Social activities with friends
Habits I have:
- Weekly temple trips (kind of been slacking on this lately, due to finals, but I mostly keep to it)
- Making my bed every morning
- Walking (not having a car, but still having places to be makes this one easier to keep). However, I also like to just randomly go for walks with no particular destination to go to.
- Writing for the Board
I try to do something actively musical every day.
I really ought to take some of the time that I spend online and spend it reading instead. I have a huge backlog of books to get through.
Dear Not Alone,
Yes, I have some thoughts, but first I have a (small) bone to pick with you.
I, personally, wouldn't consider video games to be vain entertainment. Sure, they could escalate to that point and consume your life but you just need to keep yourself in check. Some video games out there are total garbage, just like some movies, tv shows and books, but others can be incredible and even inspiring. It's all about balance, my friend.
It sounds to me like you might be feeling completely burned out. Maybe you're finding it difficult to motivate yourself to try new things? Have you recently achieved a life-long goal and it didn't end up being as exciting as you expected? Maybe the monotony of day-to-day life is just getting to you? I'm not sure what it is, but I promise I know the feeling. I would suggest taking time for some self-reflection and mindfulness in order to try to pinpoint precisely what's causing your despair. Once you know the cause it'll be much easier to find a solution.
Since you asked, I'll let you know what keeps me going and what my solutions are. I do yoga and lift weights on a regular basis and plan these into my schedule. (I can definitely tell a difference when I skip them, too.) I'll do some cardio, too, like walking, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. but they're more recreational and happen when the opportunity strikes. I also try to meditate at least once a week for about 10 minutes. It helps keep me grounded.
I read books and listen to audiobooks. I shoot for about one per week and I try to find recommendations from reliable sources so I don't feel like I'm wasting my time. About once a month I'll take a week off from reading to catch up on my favorite podcasts just to vary things up.
I play video games that I enjoy. If I'm not enjoying it, I'll stop playing it. Also, along with this, my husband and I usually, at any given time, have a TV series we're gradually watching. Same rule applies though- if we don't find it enjoyable and/or inspiring, we don't watch it anymore. I just don't need that kind of negativity in my life.
I love cooking, and more specifically baking. I make an effort to try new recipes frequently, too, so I don't get burned out.
Everyone so often, maybe once or twice a month, I'll do something creative like paint, sew, sketch, craft, weave a basket, etc.
Although they are seasonal hobbies, I really enjoy gardening and beekeeping. Not only are they great hobbies on their own but just getting outside on a sunny day and breathing in the fresh air can do wonders for your soul. I love going to the beach, too (only a few miles away from where I live). It's so refreshing and it's one of my favorite things.
Lastly, when all of these things fail and I find myself slipping, the best way I can catch myself is to have some serious pillow-talk with my husband. Having a confidant that you feel you can say anything to without being judged, having someone that knows you really well and with whom you can talk things through is, to me, a necessity. And such a person doesn't have to be a spouse- it can be a best friend, a therapist, a sibling, etc. Just someone who can keep you grounded and help you sort out your thoughts. And, at some point in your life, this could simply be your journal, too.
I'm not sure where you live or what your personal circumstances are like, but look around you. See what's available and get involved in something you're passionate about. I love going to my monthly beekeeper meetings and I'm still searching for that perfect book club. Do things you genuinely enjoy doing. Don't do things only because you think you should and be honest about this.
Well, this ended up being more of a ramble than I meant. Still, I hope I've been able to help you out. We all have our lows and I hope you're able to conquer yours. Best of luck to you, friend.
I think prayer and scriptures fill one absolutely critical set of needs, but not the only set of needs.
I like the idea of being involved in open source-type efforts: often there's a ton of flexibility to set hours, you're contributing something to the world, it tends to tickle your brain, you can start paying back your debt to Wikipedia/free software/etc., and so on. I help produce e-books for Project Gutenberg via MTP. I know Whistler edits Wikipedia. There's any number of similar things out there in the world, and although some require technical skills others really don't. Family history on FamilySearch actually falls into that box.
I also read in the ballpark of 20,000 pages a year (mix of fiction and nonfiction, old and new) and that's really good for me.
- Having fun with friends, usually through games
- Trying new recipes and eating new foods
- Playing with children
- Reading books out loud to someone I love
Dear Not Alone,
I want to read more books. I read a lot of articles that I come across on social media, and I like staying informed that way, but used to read a ton of books and I've realized that I miss that kind of in-depth engagement with a text. (Plus, it's kind of shameful for a librarian not to read very much.) So I'm going to try to read a chapter of a book every day and hopefully prioritize that over more superficial types of engagement.
Daily habits I want to do:
- Journaling (more of a weekly habit for me... or bi-weekly...)
- Healthy eating with more vegetables
- Waking up at or before six a.m.
- 10,000 steps
Daily habits I actually do:
- Reading the New Testament (intermixed with some Book of Mormon and Old Testament some months, of course... I just generally like the New Testament most). Can be substituted with either general scripture reading or spiritual texts from any religion, depending on your faith interests.
- Other book-reading, either via audio book or old-fashioned paper
- Meditation (usually around ten minutes at night while trying to sleep)
For what it's worth, if they're not working as you'd hope, I think there can be a lot of value in taking a step back from conventional methods, such as scripture reading.
In D&C 88 we're told to seek out of the best books, which to me include religious texts in and out of the LDS canon, as well as a lot of non-religious texts (insert my periodic plug for The Soul of Money). Furthermore, Joseph Smith said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” You'll notice he says nothing of reading it, which of course has its importance, but I guess I'm trying to say that you can still grow nearer to God if reading scripture is hard. And I know this because that's something that has always been hard for me.
I also took a break from the sociality of church for a while. I'd go to sacrament meeting (sometimes in a random ward), and if I felt like staying, I would stay past the sacrament ordinance; if not I'd go home. Rarely would I go to all three hours, and I consistently struggled with visiting teaching and general callings. Along the lines of something yayfulness said in a podcast some years ago, I knew my salvation and the ordinances attached to it were largely individual, so I let them be.
It took a lot to be able to dissect a more pure truth from the many "Should's" of church culture, but I'm glad I did. After a good growth period, I'm back to regular attendance, but I'm also learning more about other religions and traditions. Last week I went to a "Meet the Muslims" event, and I'll probably go again next month. I feel learning about the truth in others' lives helps me appreciate the truth in my own.
And, to clarify, I'm not necessarily endorsing a break from the church/the gospel, I'm just saying that God's foundation is firm, so it will wait for you if you need it to.