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“The average American household has more televisions (2.73) than people (2.55) and has it on over 8 hours a day.” (Minnesota Department of Health)  

Hours per year the average American youth spends in school 900 hours
Hours per year the average American youth watches television 1,200
*Table from StatisticBrain.com

It’s undeniable: We live in a world consumed by entertainment.

We can find countless statistics and studies that display how amusement and entertainment have quickly become a main focus of modern society.  Throughout this article, you’ll find a few compelling stats, but my main purpose is to explain how we have become so focused on entertaining ourselves, that we miss out on the true adventure that our lives could be if we resisted settling for mere amusement.

Kayaking on Lake Dillon (Frisco, CO)

Time is a truly non-renewable resource.

When reflecting on life, do you find the moments spent watching sitcoms or action movies are the moments when your life seems most purposeful and fulfilling?   While there is something to be said about the intrinsic value of relaxation and release that visual entertainment can provide, I would wager that the average person has probably surpassed healthy limits of entertainment and amusement.

Yes: we can find enjoyment in these things.  And yes: they can serve a purpose in our lives when used intentionally.  But it seems safe to say that most of us could stand to do without a few hours of entertainment each week for the sake of actually living a life worthy of the adventures that our hearts desires.

Camping in the Canyons (Moab, UT)

Fiction is useless, unless it inspires us to action.

Fiction, by definition, is something that describes imaginary events and people.  When thinking of all of the fictitious media (movies, TV, novels, video games, etc.) that we often spend massive amounts of time engaged with, it seems like the only meaningful purpose that it could possibly serve is to produce some application to our real and relevant lives. If the entertainment and amusement that we seek does nothing to impact our lives and encourage growth, my question then becomes: “Is it really worth it?”  It seems to me that just having the intrinsic value of enjoyment and entertainment only goes so far…

Hammock Backpacking on Lake Superior (Porcupine Mountains, MI)

Why settle?

Why settle for mere amusement?  I see countless people, especially in my college-aged demographic, that are simply allowing their lives to be consumed with entertainment.  These hours are usually spent watching dramatic sagas, spunky comedies, and epic adventures that entice the mind and senses to desire more.  While many of us have the disposable time to give to this kind of entertainment (even though we seem “too busy”), the challenge becomes perceiving those hours as potentially more useful and valuable.  

But why settle for spending them on entertainment and amusement?  Why settle for only observing adventure after adventure of fictitious lives that seem brilliant, funny, and cool on the outside?  Why not seek to use those moments to create our own adventure… to live a life worthy of being filmed and documented!

Rock Climbing in the Black Hills (South Dakota)

It’s been two years…

It’s been two years since I’ve eliminated TV and movies from my life.  You might say this was an extreme measure, and yes, I agree… but not to the point of it being foolish.  While I have missed out on the occasional social opportunity to spend time with people going to theaters and hosting long movie nights, I’ve gained something far greater. I now spend the time that I would have spent on entertainment for planning and executing my own adventures in life.  The payback has been tenfold!   Now, my greater purpose with this time is equipping and leading others in their real-life adventures.  These endeavors have been so much more fulfilling (and difficult) than how I used to spend my time.

Canoeing the Kickapoo (La Farge, WI)

Are we amusing ourselves to death?

Consider this statistic:  “At the end of his/her life, the average American will have spent 9 years of time watching TV.”  (BLS American Time Use Survey)

Nine years!  That’s an incredible investment of life!  An investment that many of us sign off without even thinking about it…

There is a passive quality to amusement.  It is often the product of unintentional time within someone’s schedule.  And whenever I consider it seriously, I never regret not amusing myself.

Barefoot Rockclimbing (Clear Creek Canyon, CO)

Living our own adventures…

The goal of all of this is to inspire.  When reflecting on the countless hours that I’ve spent on entertainment and watching adventures from the outside looking in, I am now more motivated to intentionally use my time to create my own adventures!

While the adventurous life comes with its limits, I believe that we can create adventure and thrills in our own lives that far outweigh other forms of entertainment.  Let’s be active in pursuing those things and, at the same time, maintain a sobered perspective on media and sources of amusement.  By living our own adventures, we can begin to truly experience the excitement and challenges that our hearts desire!

Hiking Breckenridge (Summit County, CO)

Here’s the challenge!

How about sacrificing 2-3 hours per week that you would have spent on entertainment in order to work towards your dreams?   Use some time to pursue something that you’ve always wanted to do.  Research a particular adventure or hike for the future.  Check out a new form of recreation. Work toward a personal goal (large or small).

How about socially?  Why not try trading the movies with your friends or loved ones for a different activity or new experience together?  I’ve seen this incredibly strengthen my relationships over time, and I think that you will too!

Let’s get out and live our own adventures!

Hiking the Sawtooth (Mount Bierstadt, CO)

 

Your Turn:
What other opportunities could you pursue?
How have you experienced entertainment or amusement in life?
Are we really “amusing ourselves to death”? 

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# Comments

  • JohnH

    Spending time out on the trail with friends is way more satisfying than watching a movie.

    • AJ Heil

      John,

      I’m really glad that you think that way! Sometimes I need a solid reminder of this because it can be WAY EASIER for me to choose the “lazy” option… There’s a bit of discomfort involved in getting up and getting out. But I agree — It’s always SO worth it!

      AJ

  • cairnstone

    Wow! I love this message! It’s very sobering to think about the precious time I’ve wasted passively entertaining myself with TV, movies, social media, and even books(sometimes). I think it can be a challenge, especially during the winter months when we have less daylight, to find more productive and intentional activities to fill the time. Challenge accepted. 🙂

    • AJ Heil

      Rising to the challenge?! That’s fantastic!

      Although it’s the easy choice (passive entertainment), I’m in agreement that it seems to be the lesser in terms of value and purpose! The winter provides a particular challenge — Our adventures may not be as big, in a sense, but may involve more time spent indoors doing intentional and productive things 🙂

  • carsuek

    Great challenge! It is so easy to give in to the laze when it is cold outside, but it is also the perfect time to prepare for the next great adventure. Nice article, thanks for sharing!

    • AJ Heil

      The cold is definitely a culprit at times! It can be hard to be motivated to adventure during the winter months… Hoping that you and I can be intentional at planning and preparing for warm weather adventures during the colder months 🙂 Glad that you liked the article!

      Hope to publish a similar one in the future!
      AJ

  • John Fisch

    Outstanding . . . and inspiring . . . article from start to finish. Thanks for lifting my day!

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