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3 Ways to Stop Living Vicariously Through Technology

3 Ways to Stop Living Vicariously Through Technology


    Image courtesy of jonrawlinson on Flickr

    As technology continues to improve, it is becoming easier than ever for us to live vicariously through the creations of others. Living vicariously through technology is “watching instead of doing.” An example is getting home from work and deciding to watch television or Youtube videos instead of creating something of your own. It is stagnating during your free time instead of growing. This is a bad habit, but luckily there are some ways around it.

    The leisure industry counts on you being lazy and stagnating- that’s how they make their money:

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    The tremendous leisure industry that has arisen in the last few generations has been designed to help fill free time with enjoyable experiences. Nevertheless, instead of using our physical and mental resources to experience flow, most of us spend many hours each week watching celebrated athletes playing in enormous stadiums. Instead of making music, we listen to platinum records cut by millionaire musicians. Instead of making art, we admire paintings that brought in the highest bids at the latest auction. We do not run risks acting on our beliefs, but occupy hours each day watching actors who pretend to have adventures, engaged in mock-meaningful action.

    -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

    So you have two choices- you can either 1) continue stagnating, giving your money and free time to the leisure industry, or 2) use your free time to grow. If you chose option 2, here are three ways to get started.

    3 Ways to Stop Living Vicariously Through Technology

    1. Create your own damn content!

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    Everyone loves free content on the Internet. The reality is, only 1-2% of website visitors actually contribute content. For example, about 1-2% of Wikipedia visitors actually contribute to the site (according to Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks, as of 2005).

    You can change this, and grow along the way – if you have a valuable opinion, or are an expert on a subject, why not share it with others? You might be surprised how much feedback you start getting, how many interesting people you meet along the way, and how good it feels to contribute to a greater cause.

    Examples: Start a blog, create videos on Youtube, create an article at Wikipedia, create a new recipe for a meal.

    2. Don’t want to create? At least contribute.

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    If you don’t want to create your own content, you can still grow and help support online communities by contributing feedback, comments, and ratings to websites. Providing feedback to other’s content is critical to the continued success of social media. For example, I love getting comments on my blog- whether they are positive or negative, feedback is better than no feedback. It lets me know people are reading what I post, and helps me improve if someone mentions a critical piece of information missing in my post.

    Examples: Comment on a blog post, rate a Youtube video, edit a spelling error on a Wikipedia article.

    3. Stop using technology so much

    Get away from your computer/television/PDA. It’s healthy to create a daily ritual of “disconnecting” from your computer, and there are plenty of ways to grow without technology. Who knows- you might even get a workout along the way.

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    Examples: Play a sport, play an instrument, create art, create music, exercise, join an improvisation group.

    These are just a few examples, use your imagination to come up with more. The point is- don’t live vicariously through technology or you will stagnate. Use your free time to create and grow, and you will find yourself living a more meaningful life.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

    Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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    Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

    However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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    The leap happens when we realize two things:

    1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
    2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

    Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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    Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

    My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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    In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

    “Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

    Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

    More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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