I love to research. Questions pop into my mind and the answers are within clicks. After watching Korean tv shows I had to know what the common words I was hearing were. After watching an inspirational true story movie I had to know what happened to everyone involved after the movie ended.
Yet, I was tired of spending hours researching and not seeing a product at the end to show for it, besides new knowledge. I think being addicted to research keeps me from experiencing things myself. I decided I needed to rethink the way I spent my time. I won’t always have this time at my disposal so I should make the most of it.
So if you’re like me and wondering what to do about an activity you’re addicted to, start with these questions…
- What activity (ies) am I addicted to or obsessed with? Is there a recreational activity you spend hours during your free time? (tv, reading, gaming, working out etc). I use the internet, a lot.
- Why do I do this activity? What is the root cause of the action? (Perfection, Gratification, Building Self-esteem, Escape, Entertainment, Curiosity). I search the internet for information and get lost in it.
- How do you feel after you do the activity? Do I feel drained, ashamed, hollow or down on myself sometimes after completing this activity, even though it really was fun? Or do you feel invigorated, joyful, and at peace? Sometimes an activity might be fun but not fulfilling. When I read or watch tv too long I feel like I’ve wasted time and I feel ashamed I’ve sat in the same spot all day and likely made an indent in the couch. However I’ve spent hours hiking with my husband and loved it and felt at peace in the woods.
- Does this bring me closer to or take me away from God and my loved ones? Movies and books that inspire me to be a better person bring me closer to God. Research can help me be reflective and inspire me, depending on what I’m researching.
- Is there value in this activity in moderation or should I eliminate from my life entirely? My husband and I have been considering getting rid of cable because we rarely watch tv, but we watch a lot of movies. If I can’t remember the movie the next day then it probably didn’t have value to me, but there are some movies that stick with me. Plus it’s an activity that helps me bond with my husband because we talk about it together, make predictions and of course drink tea while we watch.
- Is there an alternative activity that would be bring me closer to God and/or those around me that fulfills the same need? When it comes to the internet, it’s the wealth of knowledge so the answer is likely no. I haven’t found the answer yet to get around the tv as a way of spending our evenings, but on our vacation playing board games was definitely fun. Maybe we can do that more often.
In the end what I’ve found is that when I spend a lot of time on an activity like internet researching it starts out as curiosity and seeking knowledge and becomes a quest for perfection: the perfect recipe, house, blog, vacation etc. Then it becomes a mission I must complete. Then I lose sight of the joy of the adventure and become too tied down to particulars. So for me the questions lead me to continuing the activity in moderation. I can put a limit on my research and set a goal for myself and then turn it off, like a parent would do for a child to regulate usage.
You may be obsessed with cycling, but if you feel refreshed, it inspires others with your determination and you can still spend time with them, and you get good exercise out it, then that sounds like a healthy addiction. If you play pool so much that you lose money from bets, come home late and don’t have time with your family, and get tempted by those around you and you feel guilty when you get home, then maybe it’s time to reconsider how often you partake in this activity and the circumstances around it.
Just because we spend a lot of time on something doesn’t make it a negative activity; most of us work eight or more hours a day. This provides income for our family and hopefully a feeling of happiness and satisfaction in the work we do.
The question is when it starts to intervene in our personal lives, in how we think, what we do, and how we are around others. If it becomes a hindrance, obstacle, or point of conflict it’s time to reflect. So if you think you spend a lot of time on something think about how it makes you feel, how it impacts others, and what you get out of it.
May you find the activities in your life to pursue that bring you joy and help you live a fuller, more satisfied life with those you love.