For the average American whose lifespan is 78.8 years, a total of 7 years and 8 months is spent watching TV. Another 5 years and 4 months on social media platforms — YouTube taking up 1 year and 10 months and Facebook, 1 year and 7 months of that time. That means, on average, 13 years of one’s life is spent staring at glass.
Ray Bradbury, when writing the novel “Fahrenheit 451,” predicted just as much. Though published in the 1950s, when the television first became a household commodity, much of his novel speaks to the present day.
Bradbury predicted a future in which houses are not built with brick and mortar, but rather, giant television screens surrounding its residents with never-ending reality shows and, at night, when those walls are shut off, rather than sleeping in silence, one wears headphones that consistently stream sound.
The government in this dystopian future does not want its citizens to be educated— to form independent thoughts that may cause disgruntlement and eventually rebellion. To them, these screens and their constant hum are salvation from the threat of a mind at work.
And what more does a mind need to formulate independent thought but silence?
The mind is a powerful tool. The very survival of civilizations relies on them. Our minds, and how we chose to use them, are the currency by which human beings create and achieve pushing technology and society forward.
We don’t properly value that currency - WE WASTE SO MUCH TIME.
Not only is this proven by the aforementioned statistics, but also from the common conviction we have all had at the end of a day: well that was a waste of a day, I could have done more, so much for that, etc. . . .
For students, this can be proven practically. Over summer, on average, a student loses 3 months of the prior year’s education and, due to the cumulative nature of primary and secondary education, at the beginning of the school year teachers spend 6 weeks reviewing what students should already have learned.
What researchers call Summer Learning Loss is caused by a general mental inactivity throughout the school-less months, which can come from things like binge watching TV shows on Netflix or Amazon, going on social media kicks and gorging oneself on excess sleep, understandably trying to catch up from a year where it was neglected.
According to studies, it takes 66 days to build a habit. Finishing school on May 4th, 2017 and starting back up August 28th, Master’s U students have 115 days— or rather, opportunities—to start either bad or good habits.
Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestselling business book,“Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” streams case-story after case-story of people who have transformed individuals, teams and companies because they chose to change one habit.
“You can’t order people to change,” CEO of Alcoa, Paul O’Neill explained, “That’s not how the brain works. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.” He changed their safety procedures and within months Alcoa’s profits increased. New routines were formed, costs came down, quality went up, and productivity and safety sky-rocketed. All by focusing on eliminating one bad habit.
Gary Keller’s book “One-Thing” reads, “Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”
For these secular authors, they do not try to treat innumerable symptoms, but they address the root of them — bad habits — and replace them with good ones. Our minds and our bodies are naturally controlled by the habits we have built.
It takes 66 days to build a habit. There are a little over 200 days you spend in school. 200 days where great habits are built, where your knowledge is challenged and grown, where your time is used more productively, and where being immersed in the Word of God through personal reading, chapel, bible study and church becomes “natural”.
Summer could steal that.
When you come back from break, for at least two weeks you will be answering one question, “What did you do this summer?” You will have to answer for those 115 days of freedom. What will your answer be?
Are you living behind the glass walls of television, social media, music, distraction, sleep, etc.?
Choose to be productive and challenge yourself. Choose just one thing over the summer that will set you up for future success. Finish your - long put off - summer reading list, learn a new skill like photography or graphic design. Challenge yourself to meet new people, learn about a different culture and invest yourself into your local church.
Ultimately, just as your peers will ask what you did with your summer, God calls us all to account for how we make the most of the time and talents He has given us.
So, what are you doing this summer?
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