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September 27 2011

Are You Living an Active or Passive Life?

By Mark Sisson
154 Comments

Humans enjoy being entertained. We like watching funny, engrossing, exciting shows, movies, and plays. We love good tunes. And we enjoy watching a great stand-up comedian at work, the kind that makes your abs sore from laughter. But why? Well, it boils down to our need for sensation. Simply put, we need to laugh, cry, tense up from excitement, experience emotional highs and lows, and we enjoy the activation of our adrenal systems – whether it’s due to something happening to us in real life or to an imaginary character on a screen somewhere – because we have the equipment necessary to experience all those things, and we need to use it. Feeling sensations, emotions, excitement, then, is a prerequisite for being a healthy, happy human. An ancestral expectation.

This makes sense when you think about it. Everything that we had to do to survive, like hunting, fighting, exploring, and climbing to tall places, naturally elicited powerful sensations. And if we were going to continue to perform those actions and survive long enough to reproduce, the sensations had to be rewarding on some level. The flush of adrenaline that came with killing an antelope had to be enjoyable, or else we’d be less likely to kill again. Even simple socializing, while not necessarily thrilling or exciting, is highly entertaining because it reinforced an activity that allowed us to exchange ideas, solidify relationships, and learn new things, tips, and tricks. You want to know where the tastiest berries are? You gotta talk to someone to find out.

But look at the passive voice we use when we talk about entertainment nowadays. We are entertained, we like being entertained; we do not entertain ourselves or do exciting, hilarious things that also entertain us. We are largely passive participants in entertainment, while “entertainers” are an elite, select group of professionals who make good money entertaining us, and “entertainment” has come to signify the various mediums through which we consume entertainment – TV, Internet, video games, etc. Entertainment is very much about things being done to and for us, while we lay back and take it all in.

The numbers are pretty staggering. In an average American household, the TV is on for 6 hours and 47 minutes each day. 66% of Americans regularly watch TV while eating dinner. The average American kid watches 1,500 hours of TV a year, and over half of 4-6 year olds polled preferred watching TV to “spending time with their father.” But the television has been around for decades, and it’s always been popular. In fact, research suggests that people watched almost as much TV back then as they do today (PDF). I watched plenty as a kid, but I still managed to get out into trouble, run around, play, and experience life in between episodes of Bonanza and the Andy Griffith Show, so what explains today? Well, these days 93% of teens and adults aged 12-29 also go online daily, with more than a third using it several times a day. When you factor in mobile and smart phone usage, every waking hour is consumed by electronic entertainment, the vast majority of it passive. For a people mired in media, there’s simply no time left for active entertainment.

What did people do before television? Before the Internet? How did people keep themselves entertained during those occasional five second periods of inactivity without a smartphone to pull out? How did people occupy their time when they weren’t working, going to school, or procuring food? In other words, how did people back then keep themselves entertained without the wealth of media options available to us now? Did leisure time consist of staring at walls, the ground, and/or the ceiling, or if you were lucky and weather permitted, shapes in the clouds?

10,000+ years ago, folks had nought but their own imagination, their community, and the wild world around them. When they weren’t procuring food, shelter, or safety (activities that were often exciting and engrossing in their own right), Grok and co. could play games with and talk to each other, explore the environment, tell and listen to stories, play games, and practice hunting skills. I’m probably missing a few activities (and there’s no way to know for sure what specifically went down, unless perhaps we unearth a paleolithic version of Twister somewhere), but we know what they did not do. They did not lock the door, shut the blinds, plop down on the couch, and watch TV for half the day. They did not go to the movies. They did not surf the web late into the night. The closest thing to passive consumption of entertainment was listening to someone tell stories, but even that was a participatory act, since the listener was in the same room, probably knew the person telling it, and would respond and react in real time to their words. Oh, and there were no commercials. Basically, if Grok wanted entertainment, he had to go out and do things to make it happen. And if he wanted to be entertained, say by a storyteller, he had to go directly to the source. There were no other options.

When you take everything into account, it’s difficult to lay too much blame on folks today. Most of us grew up in a world where entertainment and sensation came prepackaged and easily deliverable, and that’s hard to get around. After all, humans love the easy route. Heck, animals in general prefer the easy route, because easy routes are few and far between in the wild. So when you see one, you take it! Ten thousand years ago, the only way to feel anything was to go out and actually experience it. Today, it’s easier to watch other people’s experiences on a screen, and it’s sometimes more effective, especially when they’re enhanced by sex, violence, explosions, special effects, audio, and teams of writers/actors/directors working to make the experience that much more intense. And remember – feeling those powerful sensations is not optional. We crave and need them to function well, so the path of least resistance and most abundance will also be the path most traveled. I think we’re just too far removed from real experience, from having to engage with the world. To counteract that, we have to consciously decide to turn away from the easy route, to go out and do things differently, and that’s hard to do for an animal wired to take the path of least resistance.

But we gotta do it.

So here’s my challenge for the day: be engaged with the world and those who populate it. Get off the computer and off the couch. Find/do/explore/feel the real thing. How you do so is up to you, but I have a few suggestions.

  • Watch TV, sure, but watch it selectively. Set the shows you truly care about to tape and keep the TV off otherwise. And try to stick to shows that make you think. More Dexter, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Ken Burns docs; less reality TV and Two and a Half Men. Don’t just have the TV on because you’re home.
  • Use Facebook, but use it to facilitate real world, face-to-face interaction. Make an event and invite people to it. Catch up with an old friend and meet up at a coffee shop.
  • When you read blogs, participate in the comment section. Don’t just consume; produce, interact, discuss!
  • Watch a movie at the cinema, or better yet, go to a comedy show or watch a show at the theater. Afterward, talk about what you just watched over coffee or drinks.
  • Join an adult sports league, or organize something with your social circle. You could even just head down to the local park for a pickup game.
  • Instead of playing video games, have friends over for a board game night, or maybe poker night. And if you’re going to play video games, try multiplayer games.
  • Read fiction. It’s passive, but you have to actively process the words and imagine the world the author creates.
  • Look for a paleo Meetup group near you, join it, and start attending functions. If your new Meetup group is staid, start suggesting meetups yourself! Don’t wait for others to do it.
  • Instead of buying all your meat all the time, try hunting. Instead of buying all your produce, try gardening. If you don’t have the option for either, go to farmer’s markets, where you can look the person who grew your food directly in the eye as you exchange money for goods and actually get to know them.
  • Get a dog (and feed it an ancestral diet). It’ll get you outside and teach you to be more present and aware of the moment.
  • Make a point to say “hello” to passers-by. Even a smile and nod will usually work, and it’s not a big commitment. It’s just a quick connection, a mutual acknowledgement of another human being. No “stop-and-chat” required.
  • Stop using porn. Have real sex instead.

If you’re complaining that this is all too hard, that everyone else you know lives on Facebook and only text messages, change that. Invite them out. Think about how much you wish you could have more real experiences and realize that everyone else probably feels the same way. Like you, they’re just waiting for someone to take charge. Be that person who takes charge.

With all that said, I have to ask: how are you going to be engaged with the world? How do you plan on living an active, versus passive, life?

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154 thoughts on “Are You Living an Active or Passive Life?”

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  1. Great List! I’m doing some of these, but look forward to doing more! The dog thing is an interesting idea. I have never been a dog person, but I’m starting to warm up to the idea.

    1. I wasn’t a dog person either until my wife convinced me to get a golden doodle. Gotta tell you, I’m hooked. I never thought I could love an animal as much as I love the dog.

      I spend more time outside with him and I get inspiration from him everyday to get outside and enjoy it.

      Do it man … hop on the wagon!

    2. Dogs are awesome and they get you to socialize! Just go to a park with a dog, where other dog walkers are, and you have an automatic invitation to dog parties where you pretty much just watch the dogs play while you talk about how great dogs are LOL!
      But then you get to know the other owners and you meet some really cool people. One thing about dogs is they are not shy, and they won`t let you be either!

      1. Get some hybrid pugs, they are the greatest dogs on the earth(next to Bostons). I go walking with my 3 at least once a day, usually before sunrise. We also sneek into the Jr High football stadium and do Tabata’s doggie style.

      2. I’ve got 4 dogs, 2 mini Dachshunds, a large american pitbull and an english mastiff. I walk about 4 miles every day just with dogs, all of them combined.
        Dogs are a great way to pass the ‘boring’ times of the day.

        1. Wow that Mastiff must be awesomely behaved. I have a Lab/Great Dane cross and she would be stepping on the little dogs constantly. She’s totally obilvious to anything shorter than her chest level lol

        2. I have a great dane/ bulmastiff that was a rescue dog, he is wonderful and super aware of other dogs. He plays with my mother in law’s yorkie and has never once stepped on her. He lies down and lets her run all over his head, it’s cute. I love walking with dogs!

      3. Please don’t go out of your way to get a specific breed.

        The loveable mutt at the pound will be at least as good of a companion and doesn’t feed the puppy mills.

    3. I love this post. For me, the irony of this technological world we have created is that connecting people in so many different ways (email, txt, facetime, networking . . .) has left me feeling completely disconnected! I live in Scotland where cynicism and a ‘stiff upper lip’ rule over emotion; changing my diet has completely changed my life in a way I never thought possible and I no longer feel the need to bury the way I feel behind a mask, and so I will improve my life further by following the above advice. As you can see I’ve started with Point 3 :). Thanks Mark for all your enlightening efforts. I am forever grateful.

  2. Teh – I’ve spent more time on the computer since discovering MDA and primal. But that’s ok – I’ll slow that down soon, once I’ve learned what I need to know. I can’t believe the stats on people watching tv at mealtime. WOW. We NEVER watch tv at mealtime – well not true haha on sundays the old 1970’s batman comes on and my kids are obsessed with it. So we have a family picnic with veggies, meat roll ups, and fruit on the picnic blanket on the living room floor – but that’s it.

    I plan on being more active with and playing with my kids. I spend a lot of time with them but more refereeing than playing – I need to get back into the tree climbing and tea party-ing. Can’t wait until nap time and school is over actually.

    1. I was also shocked by this. I knew a lot of people watched TV way too much but 2/3 watch TV while eating dinner?! That’s absolutely obsured.

      I am not against TV even though I never watch it except for the occasional inning in a Detroit Tigers playoff game, few series in a Lions football game (3-0!), etc.

      If the entire world was primal where would we be? Would we all be happy?

  3. So, here’s something…

    I have kept myself very busy all my life. I’ve just always felt like I needed to have things on the go – committees, sports teams, art classes, social outings… Every minute of my day was typically full of stuff that I “joined” that made me happy and fulfilled, educated me, entertained me, excited me, you name it.

    Except that EVERY MINUTE OF MY DAY was spent doing stuff and I never had a moment to NOT DO STUFF. You know?

    Since going Primal, I have developed an urge to slow down and enjoy the quiet parts of life. To be less busy. So I have downgraded my involvement in many of my extracurricular activities. This gives me more time to relax and unwind before going to bed at night.

    And part of my relaxing and unwinding has been to watch a little more TV than I used to. I’ve started to really “get into” a few shows (and not necessarily “smart” ones like those listed above; I like things like Project Runway and Top Chef – reality shows where creative people ply their trades); it’s now my thing to do on quiet nights at home. I’m not watching scary amounts of TV, but definitely more TV than ever before.

    Hm!

    1. I definitely agree in that there is a balance to be met. I have periods of my life where I was out doing something all the time, my house was just to sleep and yet other times where I wouldn’t leave the house for a day or two.

      I’m slowly learning how to listen to myself more. Am I out doing activities because I’m afraid to be alone or am I staying home to really focus and accomplish something vs being lazy to engage with the world.

      Looks like you’re hitting a stride where you can have the freedom to be quiet and relax and go and have fun when you’re ready.

    2. I hear ya. Seems like I’ve been busy my whole life. I’m the type who feels guilty if I’m sitting doing nothing, like hey! I gotta dust something or clip the dog’s nails, or, uh, or uh, something! Hard to relax. I haven’t been socializing as much lately so this article reminds me to call my friends and neighbors over for a game of darts or Monopoly or just sitting around BSing.

  4. Great tips. We don’t struggle with tv/games/computer time. My husband and I lead by example and don’t do much of it. We have horses, chickens (fresh eggs!), a dog, and a few cats outside to care for. TV time is brief, games are a once in while thing and the computer is strictly for homework/work. Otherwise we read, play outside, participate in sports, and always, always, always eat a mostly primal dinner together with zero tv. 🙂

  5. I don’t watch a lot of TV…Mainly HGTV when I feel like I need some motivation to clean my house LOL. BUT I am addicted to my smart phone and the internet…Something I need to really learn to deal with. Right now my addiction is Pinterest. Pinning things I like to eat, pinning places I want to see, or arts and crafts ideas. Probably a better idea to actually DO those things instead of stare and daydream about doing them.

    1. Oh my lands, I LOVE pinterest. Maybe we should pin something, then do it, like a one at a time limit thing. 🙂

  6. CRAFTS!!!!!!! I kept shouting this as I read your post.

    Paleolithic people surely did it and we can do it too.

    Learn to knit and sew. Learn basketry. Learn how to do beadwork, both as jewelry and as applique on fabric/leather, learn to tan hides and spin your own yarn if you want to be really hard-core. Soap stone carving, woodworking, painting and drawing, there is an activity under the heading of CRAFT for everyone.

    These are entertaining activities that, engage your brain, give you a sense of self-sufficiency and accomplishment, and you have something to show for it when you are done.

    1. Ive been learning crochet, and I looove it. Im still super beginner but im already fantasizing about things I can make, especially gifts to give people.

      Ive developed a ritual lately of crocheting while watching through episodes of Star Trek TNG on Netflix. I say it counts as thought-provoking TV, and it reminds me of my childhood, and I engage with it by yelling at Wesley whenever hes on the screen.

      1. I have about 10 episodes DVRed right now. I thought we were supposed to have a drink when Wesley appeared. I know I need one when Lwaxana is on.

    2. I quilt in the winter and garden in the summer – I know that’s not a craft but I find pulling weeds very relaxing. Oh and play with playdough all year with kids – I’m great a making cats lol

    3. oh and read – everything, anything (in book form). I’m with Mark – I just love the smell of new books. By book buying habit is almost as expensive a groceries.

  7. LOL, Mark, all three shows you listed are on my watch list.

    Add True Blood, and that’s pretty much my entire TV schedule.

    1. Does no one watch Castle? That`s thought provoking!! I’m always trying to guess who done it! Plus it’s just funny!

  8. Same here! Game of Thrones, Dexter, and Breaking Bad are on my list too!

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when I go out to eat with some of my friends. While we’re waiting for food, everyone busts out their smartphone and ignores the people around them. COME ON GUYS!

    1. My family and I actually get enjoyment out of watching people in restaurants not interact with each other because they are on smartphones. We make up stories about them and why they don’t talk to each other. Even our boys get into the act and we usually all end up cracking up and trying not to cause a scene because we are so happily interacting with each other!

    2. One of my employees does that when I take my team out to lunch. I’ve pulled him aside and explained why that’s rude and inappropriate, but he still does it.

  9. In reading Primal Blueprint, the blog posts on play, and this post, I realized that one of the areas where I’m most lacking is free, uninhibited play. So much of life (work, chores, “responsibilities”) is regimented. I truly want to break out of the “adult maturity” mold and get in touch with my playful side. I think one of my biggest challenges is letting go of what I feel I “have to” act like and removing the mantle of “I should behave like this” because it’s what is expected of me as a …… (fill in the blank.)

    One of my inspirations is a young woman named Katie who is clearly living life the way she wants, to the fullest. Check out some of her posts for inspiration: http://colormekatie.blogspot.com/
    It’s pretty brilliant.

  10. As a kid, I used to love rides in the car, from short rides across town to road trips. This was because I used to look out the window and just THINK. I would look at the passing scenery, check out interesting houses and wonder what the people in them were like, look at unusual buildings or properties and wonder what they were for. Frequently, while driving through more wild terrain, I would make up stories about what it would be like to live in such a forest/desert/mountain terrain. Sometimes I would listen to music to soundtrack my thoughts, but the main entertainment was the thoughts in my head. I attribute this practice to my interest and skill in writing today. Of course, today I have to, you know, focus on driving, but whenever Im a passenger I still find myself slipping into such a creative, zen state.

    Since time spent with ones thoughts is so rare today, I am adamant that should I have kids, there is no way in high heaven that we will have a TV in the car.

    1. I was the same way!! I used to love car rides… And my family did plenty of long cross-country trips in the ol’ station wagon:) I think that’s part of why my family is so creative. (That and the fact that whenever we complained about being bored, my mother would say “only boring people get bored.”) I have a two year old now, and you can be sure we won’t be getting a car with a DVD player anytime soon.

  11. after more than 20yrs w/o one, I finally got a dog last year. We go for walks twice a day. He’s learning to run along without tripping me during sprints. We play. We share food – sometimes his is less-cooked than mine 🙂 He does something to make me laugh every day. His joyful exhuberance is infectious…

    1. Yes Peggy “exuberant” is the word to describe dogs =D I’m so glad you discovered how wonderful they are! We always had dogs when i was growing up and then I moved out on my own and couldn’t afford one for the longest time. It was actually really hard for me to be without canine companion. Now I have a wonderful little girl who probably the smartest dog I’ve ever had, and the most loyal 🙂

  12. Great post, our household hasn’t had had TV for almost 6 months and I haven’t missed it. We use Netflix and boxee when we want to watch something but what we watch his a lot more stimulating and we don’t watch just to waste time anymore (ignoring the day I watched Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus).

    Growing up we only got 2 channels on a 20″ tv and both came in grainy and rarely aired anything worth while. I remember reading, playing cards, exploring outside, wood working, baking, gardening, … etc keeping my and my parents from myself getting bored.

    1. We don’t have a TV either. We use my parents’ HBO credentials to watch HBOGO online (I would happily pay for HBOGO myself, as it’s a great service, but it is only available to people who already have HBO on cable. WTF?), and Netflix covers most of the older stuff.

  13. I discontinued my cable nearly 2 years ago, so now we have to choose what to watch (DVDs or downloads). Also, when my son was younger (he’s 13 now), I took him to plays, music performances and various festivals so that he got to know that it was real people creating the entertainment, not just stuff on a screen. I think it’s paid off because he’s a hands-on kind of guy (sort of a mad scientist, actually), plays 4 musical instruments and likes to make movies with a friend to post on their YouTube channel. They’ve gone from being entertained to being the entertainers.

    1. We have a TV but don’t let our kids watch it. As they are still young (2 and 4), they really don’t seem to mind. But when we go over to other people’s houses, they get sucked right into watching the TV if it’s on.

      We let the kids go outside and play in the backyard (barefooted of course!). We also do crafts, colour, play games, read, get them to help prepare lunches and meals. Evenings seem to go by really fast when you are engaged in activities.

      I am sure the day will come when they will protest but hopefully by then they will realize how much more they get to do by not watching TV.

      By the way, my husband and I have found that since we cancelled our cable last year, that we read and talk more. Also, we tend to go to bed earlier! 😉

  14. Very timely. I just deleted all the games off my iPhone last night and am taking a hard look at my TV consumption.

    I’ve already cut the alarm clock, dropped Netflix, started running without music blaring in my ears and use the computer ONLY for work hours.

    Now if I could only get the rest of the household to agree to kill the cable subscription!

    1. Good for you!! I’m trying to break an addiction to Snood. Very tough to do…

  15. Great Post, Mark. This life is about the people we love who populate it! Don’t let life pass you by and miss out on the wonderful relationships you could have. Grok on!

  16. Mark, you’re a Game of Thrones fan? Now I officially love you! (Dexter and Breaking Bad rock too)

    You hit the nail on the head. When I think of a creature that has to be constantly entertained and cannot do much for itself, I think of an infant. Then I think of most people.

    I work part time the entertainment industry so I watch a lot of television and film. I’m also a writer so I sequester time to do that too…not to mention school and trying to squeeze in Crossfit workouts. It’s hard! I think of “me time” and my first thought is lounging around watching Arya stab people. But then I begin to feel, wow, I finally have time to myself and I waste a lot of it.

    This post motivates me to try harder to do more things I want. I love going to the movies, but a lot of the joy I get from it is hanging out with friends. So maybe after the movies we’ll go hang out in the park or something. Ideas!

  17. I haven’t watched tv for about 3 years since I got involved in SecondLife, which is a multi-player virtual reality. It is not primarily a combat environment, although that’s available. I’ve done some and it is very active. I now mostly spend time with the avatars of REAL human friends. I build and design things. I do stand-up comedy. I role play. Why watch tv when I can be on it.

  18. The less I watch TV, I notice that the quicker I got sick of being in front of the screen. I’ve been reading a lot more books (non-fiction) that gets my brain cells working, learning everything from psychology, nutrition, spirituality, power of the mind, and quantum physics. If I see an article I’m interested in reading online but it’s long, I’d print it out and read it from the paper the old fashioned way, or load it up onto my Kindle – no back-lit disturbance to my brain. My significant other was a tv addict when we met less than two years ago, but his commitment to primal lifestyle has completely changed his lifestyle and reaping benefits from it too! Now he’s reading more, watching less tv, downloading less silly passive shows, and is actually training consistently (he used to hate working out). I might amount to a max of 6 hours of tv a week, just 3 the past week actually. His numbers are coming down significantly too, from just having the tv making noise when he’s home all day, to having it off entirely and watching it only to watch documentaries and two of his favourite shows. Not bad, I’d say!
    Bravo to everyone enjoying life, to finally LIVING.

  19. I am super lazy and I need to change that. Your blog and ideals are inspiring. For me, less TV, more reading, more moving.

  20. One thing that was left off this list of how Grokette entertained herself: she made pretty things, in her spare time. These things were also probably functional, but their decorativeness went beyond just function. That’s one big way I entertain myself.

    I don’t have a TV and I don’t listen to the radio either. I look at FB every day (and Mark’s Daily Apple). I also go out every day and talk to my neighbors. Sometimes this is hard because a lot of them are kind of neurotic: there are some alcoholics, some sexual harassers, people who drive too fast on our one-way rural road. But I try to get along with them.

    Sometimes it’s hard to be more social because so many people around us have lost the skills and training they need to BE social, or engage in pro-social behavior most of the time. Even old people seem very immature and anti-social to me these days. When I was a child I always thought my grandparents seemed wise, calm, and kind. The old people I know now are frequently crabby, addicted or enabling addicts, and do things that endanger other people regularly. People that grew up in the Depression and WWII seem dysfunctional to me as a group.

  21. I always love getting reading encouragement from MDA!

    Oddly I was just reading about this today…in The Other 8 Hours. We’ve got to create in our lives and not just consume, or we’ll be sorry (passive) substitutes for vibrant human beings.

    I am loving this week with the double posting!

  22. “How did people keep themselves entertained during those occasional five second periods of inactivity without a smartphone to pull out? ”

    I like to think people used to keep books with them. I always did as a kid and do most of the time as an adult.

    You said TAPE shows, Mark – you’re old 😉 we don’t have TIVO or the like, either. VHS in my house.

  23. Back when I used to compete in triathlons, (before the days of sprinting and NatFit) I gave up my television set, as I felt it was robbing me of valuable training time. I literally deprived myself of the tube for two years. When I finally broke down and bought a flat screen, I found that I had trained myself right out of the desire to watch television at all, and the damn thing sits on the dresser in my bedroom almost completely unused, unless I find a movie I want to watch before retiring. Usually my evenings are spent with a good book or Kindle, or with some friends of mine. We love to walk down to the beach and commune in the sand, or up in a tree. (I love tree climbing and have hooked my friends on it as well.
    Here in Chicago, there’s a million and a half things to do, and the ability to free ones self from the shackles of the television set and enjoy them, is truly a gift. Basically, I retrained myself out of the comatose world of television, and back into a life with people who truly live.

  24. Just dropped by a neighbor’s house on my way home from my walk. They were watching the news while eating their supper. At times it was hard to converse because of the noise of the TV, and the fact that the man of the house kept getting distracted by stories on TV. It’s hard to put this “real life socializing” into practice when everybody around you is glued to various screens!

  25. “10,000+ years ago, folks had nought but their own imagination, their community, and the wild world around them. …. Grok and co. could play games with and talk to each other, explore the environment, tell and listen to stories, play games, and practice hunting skills.”

    I think you are unfairly lumping video games in with TV. Video games, while not as primal as a dodgeball game, do fill a lot of those niches. Once you get past the casual gaming niche, games are no longer about pure reaction. MMOs like Warcraft have people coming together to socialize and make up stories with each other. Even in single player campaigns, you’re not just listening to the story, you are an active participant in it.

    And while it’s not possible to hunt down a wild pig everywhere, games do allow players to learn, practice, and refine the hunt no matter what their walk in life is. Real time strategy, first person shooters, and massive multiplayer games are all genres where you work with and against other people to refine your hunting strategies.

    And exploring environments? This will drive players to continue long after they have beaten the game. Rockstar specializes in open sandbox games where you can explore every inch of the world they made. MMOs like Oblivion and Warcraft also have in depth environements to explore.

    If fiction novels are a lesser evil due to their less-passive nature, then video games are even less still.

    1. I have to agree with a lot of the comments you made here. Once, I harped on my husband pretty hard for spending too much time playing. He was playing a lot of MarioKart and got involved with the online community, eventually running a team and creating competitions and tournaments. For someone who had just moved halfway across the country and was struggling to find employment and friends, it provided him a community with similar interests. We even once met one of those individuals in person.

      It was no substitution for the real thing, and once he started making local friends the gaming died down. But even now, it’s a good way for him to spend time with his brother who is 15 years younger than him. They call each other up and talk while they’re playing Modern Warfare, trying to come up with strategies or just cover each other’s backs.

      That’s a lot safer than trying to do that in real life!

  26. As an avid gamer, I definitely do agree with a lot of the points you make, LXV. Games are still the reason that I haven’t had cable in almost ten years; I’d rather participate in the story instead of just watch it. However, I think the real detriment of the video game isn’t so much that it is a video game; I think what is killer is the sitting six inches away from a giant backlit screen hitting the same few buttons repetitively for several hours on end.

    I mean, I’m sure you’ve had those days where you just sit down to chat with a few of your friends online and three hours later you haven’t budged from your chair, you’re sitting in some awful hunched over position, and your mouse hand is a tad sore from smashing that click button as much as possible. Not to mention the slight headache from staring at the screen for so long.

    I definitely agree with a lot of the points you’ve made, maybe it’s just people using video games as a replacement for all of those things. Am I looking forward to plopping down in my chair tonight and exploring a game world for an hour or two? Sure. But that’s only going to come after I take the dogs for walk, where we go explore one of the nearby neighborhoods that I drive by everyday, but have never been through to see.

    1. In my personal n=1 experience I have to say Jane McGonigal is right. For up to 21 hours a week** I see an improvement in the quality of my life. (And I include the time I spend playing D&D with IRL friends). Anything over that and there’s starts to accumulate the deleterious effects you mention quickly. We’re absolutely in 100% agreement that video games should not take the place of real things. I just get really hopping mad sometimes at people slagging my industry.

      ** 9/10 weeks I do not play that that many hours a week. But that is the mark where I go from entertained and uplifted by it, to getting run down by it. (The weeks when Blizzard puts out a new game are exceptions – lol)

    2. I do about an hour of gaming each day- I have invested in the free MMORPGs that way I get some interaction with people.

  27. Without even realizing it I think I’ve grow into an active person as opposed to passive. I never turn the TV on anymore and when my roommates do I’m often just reading blogs (and commenting!). I can’t take part in all of those dicussions about last nights episode or an upcoming movie but I don’t really care, it’s not real life! I’d much rather be cooking, taking photos, reading blogs or exercising these days.

    1. There is no need to choose one over the other, although some people definitely do. Porn can be one part of a healthy sex life and approach to sexuality. While the original point is to choose something active over something passive I for one good people don’t completely stop watching porn. Of course, being a pornographer i must admit to some bias!

  28. I love this post. I grew up with a lot of superficial media exposure and also grew up playing a lot of online video games and not much else.

    When I got into college, it was whole new experience. There was almost no room for introverted people there because the school was very activist-oriented (which kinda got out of hand at times) but nonetheless, I was still able to grow and connect with people in a natural way.

    But now that i’m out of college, it seemed kind of inevitable that I would go back to connecting via technology because of how our society is so conditioned this way.

    That’s why I love the suggestions you put up Mark. Instead of complaining how our world is the way it is, you give us a perspective on how we can bring the bright side of it by using just a little creativity.

    I’m a ‘pick-up’ game kinda guy. I developed most of my friendships in college from pick up basketball and frisbee games in college.

    Great post.

    P.S. Anyone have any good suggestions for books in fiction? I need to stop reading science books, and biography books 🙂

    I also heard Paolo Coelho real eased his new book today called ‘Aleph’. Just heard the interview online and just ordered my copy, can’t wait to read it.

    1. Good fiction books?

      Game of Thrones of course. The series is up to book 5 now so it’s a good time to get started.

      1. isn’t that a tv series? sorry for my ignorance, I just never heard of it.

        I’ll definitely check it out though.

        Thanks!

    2. Shantaram. it is the greatest book ever written. its very long but does not drag at all, buy it. you’ll thank me later.

    3. @Brandon: These are some of my favourite American novelists – Carl Hiaassen (very primal – he writes eco satire), Elmore Leonard (unimproveable – La Brava is my favourite), James Ellroy – LA Confidential is great as is Black Dahlia. I’m currently obsessed with James Lee Burke. What about science fiction? I love Philip K. Dick – his short stories rock. I think A Scanner Darkly rocks.

      1. wow thank you Charlotte! I now have a list to use to go out and search for. haha

        I’ve heard some of those names before, just never looked into it. Definitely will now

  29. The stimulation provided by passive entertainment is much more damaging in terms of our neural pathways being modified than any of us think. Your last list item was on stopping the porn and engaging in real relationships: an excellent example. I can only imagine how the brain is being rewired when a harem of willing 2-dimensional partners is always available in ways that presses your specific buttons. Not your grandpa’s Playboy magazine, for sure, and I can’t imagine it not affecting real relationships.

  30. I’m finding that the better I’m eating, sleeping and stronger I’m getting, the more offensive television has become. All those mind numbing “reality” programs and the ads for processed crap non-food, germ killing sprays, medicines for heatburn, anti-perspirants that now last **two days** (without letting a drop of that pesky sweat escape). That’s incentive enough to leave it turned off.

    I crave reality now. The sand in my toes, sun on my shoulders, giggling through a crazy tennis game, smelling the rain coming, creating real connections with friends, even feeling gravity sticking me to the earth. I’m loving it! 🙂

    1. Right on – I actually feel cranky when I can’t fulfill my insistent desire to get the negative-ions in the woods or that trail hike/run that gets me sweating. Those darn commercials are so grating!

  31. I think that the most interesting aspect of this whole dilemma is that it seems we’re no longer able to entertain ourselves.

    If Grok had to wait for a few hours in a park, I’m sure he’d have a blast. But most of us would just sit on a bench and get bored.

    Moreover, most of us are so socially-conscious that we’re actually afraid to let go and have fun in that kind of situation. Like “I wonder what the random guy walking his dog will think if I climb a tree?”.

  32. I love the post and the comments. I’ve had a hard summer. I’ve always been a voracious reader and I am thankful for the books that have kept me company during this season. When my father died in early June, I did rely heavily on select television/movies through Netflix. I just couldn’t think straight. In July, a local musician created a free ukulele club. I had always wanted to learn to play and bought a cheap uke 2 years ago and hardly used it. This club has done so much for me. I’m 46 and I’m finally experiencing the joy of learning to play music. Last night, quite unexpectedly, an 83 year old man showed up to our club meeting with a 1951 baritone uke and he wanted to learn a particular Earnest Tubb song by December. It was awesome!!! I love the challenges, the club members, just everything about the uke!

    1. I too lost my dad, this spring, Debra. I think your awakened interest in music sounds like an amazing salve! The uke must be so fun.

  33. One word… Trampoline!
    My house-mates and I brought a 16ft trampoline 2 months ago and it has completely transformed our house dynamics. Learning new tricks and trying to perfect flips has kept us pretty busy. Plus it is a social vortex, we get alot more visitors coming around for a coffee and bounce.
    Only one accident so far, dislocated foot & broken leg (the guy hasn’t been primal, weak bones you know)

    1. wow! trampolines are great fun. 16 ft is huge. my house-mates and i have one too. love hanging out double-bouncing each other, and egging each other on.
      one of my friends ruined his foot too though. funny coincidence.

  34. This is a very timely post. I live in San Diego and have been thinking a lot about these ideas since the “big blackout” we had a few weeks ago. Guess what happened? Everyone immediately went outside! And we talked for hours. After four years I formally met my neighbors that live across from me and had a great laugh about what they do for a living. Granted, we really have nothing in common lifestyle-wise so that is likely why we’ve never chatted more than briefly but it really made me think about how disconnected we can get from actual live humans while adhering to a schedule and shuffling thru the myriad electronic information and entertainment of the day.

    I am an active person and get outside to sweat and take in the sights everyday but I have truly reflected on this subject since the blackout. It’s good stuff to think and “do” about!

  35. I think, Mark, that this will be a post to remember. This is advice not only for the paleo-community, but for anyone.

    Amen to the last point.

  36. I watched way too much TV and played way too many video games as a child but I’d also spent uncountable hours in the forest exploring so it must have balanced out, I still consider myself a television addict. people my age should not know about Fonzy or Happy Days in general .

  37. I needed something like this! Although I already try to do these things but I feel as if something is missing…

  38. Learn to play chess instead of video games ! So much more active use of your brain in a creative way.

  39. I’ve been trying to stay away from TV, but when you said more Dexter, I sure have to agree with it!
    I am not sure about reading fiction, I like real stuff a bit more.

  40. What great timing! – yesterday I wasted a huge amount of time surfing the web for paleo recipes, only to end up anxious and stressed about all the “can’t eats” and feeling inadequate about my own cooking. I would have been much better off DOING something myself – inventing a recipe, writing a blog post, weeding my garden, knitting some socks, meditating, walking – with all that time. I’ll have to set myself an internet limit, and once it’s past, get off my butt and into action!

  41. Talk to your work colleagues instead of sending them mail all the time.

    Phone a friend and listen to their voice instead of posting on their Facebook wall or mentioning them on Twitter.

    Dust off the video camera and take it along to day events and social outings instead of only on holidays. Then get hold of video editing software and put together 5-10 minute clips of various moments in your life to look back at. This way you can create and savour your own memories instead of always watching how other people have great moments.

  42. Oh, and sometimes, just sometimes, when you ask someone “how are you?”, stop and wait for a proper answer instead of the normal superficial reply of “fine thanks, and you”.

  43. Well, I’ve been reading MDA for awhile now but never commented. I’ll be active today and comment! Thanks for a great post and reminding me to live!

    1. I have to say, I’m much more conscious of doing this on my runs. For some reason it seems to make more sense to say hello while running, whereas just walking around in daily life it seems a bit awkward…however maybe it’s time to be ok with feeling a little uncomfortable saying hi to complete strangers for no reason!

  44. I think sometimes I take for granted being stationed overseas in South Korea. When I sit down and think about it, I LOVE being here, and it just occurred to me that it’s because I unintentionally do a lot of these things. I download my favorite shows and only watch an hour of TV a day, unless there was nothing worth downloading that day. I walk to and from work. I eat kimchi everyday! I have access to (and consume large amounts of) lots of great organic korean vegetables and eggs. Most americans here play pool or darts on leagues, or play on softball teams. I’ve done all three recently, and I’m doing amateur stand up comedy for kicks too. Since going primal, I’ve kept a close circle of friends who are pursuing the same lifestyle and we go sprinting together on the weekends!

  45. “When you read blogs, participate in the comment section. Don’t just consume; produce, interact, discuss!”

    Amen

    Please do this people. As many of you know, I have a blog and LOVE when people comment. I get stoked when I get over 20 comments. Go to my blog and engage in the conversation! I reply to 80% + of the comments – sometimes 100%!!

    I loved this line too:

    “Stop using porn. Have real sex instead.”

    And giving a nod at minimum to passerbys with a smile is HUGE

  46. Ditch Paolo Coelho. Makes people too self-satisfied, this cheap brand of spirituality. Cheap because it will claim to provide answers and not raise questions.

    For real primal inspiration, read the Moomins series by Tove Jansson. Little forest-dwelling creatures, trying to survive dangers and still build and love each other.

    The Moomins books are great for adults as well as kids, but if you need something more, there are Tove Jansson’s adult novels as well.

    1. Yeah Moomins! I take my name from their primal winter diet … they fill up on pineneedles before hibernation. 🙂

  47. I feel that these junky TV programs creep on my nerves and intelligence.
    There are a few great series and shows out there, but the majority of commercials and programs just kill time.
    The science channels are cool, but usually I don’t watch TV. I used to watch when I was a kid, the old cartoons are the best, even today!

  48. I have been loving trying to do things the “old fashioned” way… I sat down and wrote letters to friends this week, and have been breaking out the cards and playing solitaire when I have 5-10 minutes available. There is something really therapeutic about being with your thoughts as you solve that kind of puzzle.
    Great reminders!

  49. This post is great. I sit here passively soaking up the post and comments every night but have only commented once or twice myself…

    If I read a post from now on and I have an opinion about it, I am going to leave a comment!

    And I am also going to actively tell my bf to turn down his xbox shooty noises rather than passively let them disrupt my wind down pre-grok-sleep relaxation time.

  50. Good stuff. And timely, as I’m attempting to write a novel. I’ve read many novels (more passive) and often thought “I can do better than that.” Well, it’s a different ball game when sitting there, with nothing but a blank page in front of you. Much more active. More challenging, but more rewarding; we’ll see how it goes…

  51. Great and very timely reminder for me. I have recently joined a roller derby league and it has really improved my fitness, social life and sense of purpose. After years of exercising with no end goals in mind and being too sedentary it is just what I need. Also it is really fun.

    I still need to work on TV watching – it is a bit of an automatic habit with me and one I am keen to break. I spend quite a lot of time alone when my husband is away and I treat it a bit like a stand in person. I need to be ok with silence and just myself without being bored.

  52. I came late to adulthood. Prior to that, I walked everywhere because I had no car, lugged a heavy backpack because I was in school, and spent most of my downtime reading or making up stories. Now I drive everywhere so I have NO time to read and get no exercise. The backpack stays on the seat. I have very little downtime and generally spend it taking care of minor stuff around the house, or chatting with my honey– which is admittedly rewarding, BUT. I need to get my rear back in gear.

  53. Great post. Sit and watch life go by or live your life. It really makes you see things differently.

  54. It’s times like these that I’m glad I grew up without much TV. As a kid we had TV (lived in the city those days) but we never paid for cable. So there were a few channels. But we never just turned on the tv to find something to watch. We found something to watch and THEN turned on the tv. and we certainly weren’t allowed to just sit in front of it and rot. I watched sesame street and reading rainbow as a kid, then Star Trek and MASH when I was a bit older and it was a weekly treat to get to watch the cartoons on saturday morning. And we did a family movie night too (we made pizza, got to have a soda! and watched a movie).

    Then we moved to the mountains where without satellite you can get 2-3 channels if you put up an arial. We didn’t. So no TV. And I never missed it. We could still watch movies (we kept the TV when we moved. It was a 20 year old tv that wasn’t much bigger than my laptop screen is and the speaker gave out years before so it had to be plugged into the stereo.

    I’ve never owned my own tv and on the rare occasions when I want passive tv entertainment I find something on line but I don’t have TV on for 4 hours a WEEK much less the 4 hours a DAY that you quote Mark. Thats kinda scary!

    And I hate being in a room with the tv’s on. I’m kinda programed to think that if it is on it must be interesting so I can’t not look. Even though it’s boring!

  55. Great post! And so true. I find myself becoming more and more aware of how I spend my free time, and this post definitely helps me admit how “easy” it is to come home, turn on the TV or go on the computer! And the “occasional five second period” of stillness…it has sadly become second nature for me to whip out my phone. This all being said-I’m ready to make some changes!

  56. I’m so glad I grew up without Television.
    When we finally got one (which was a hand-me-down and black/white screen) my mother allowed us kids to gather in the living room to watch Lassie, Little House on the Prarie and Bonanza.
    In my teens I was too busy taking Kung Fu and Kendo classes and on week ends it was Disco time!
    I didn’t fall into the passive entertainment trap until I got married, party times were over and every hobby too expensive…so what’s left?
    Sitting behind TV and/or PC (online gaming) for years has put 30 lbs on my midsection, aching back and knees and made me actually quite dumb, even though I know more things now than 20 years ago.
    Not being active and letting things entertain us excellerates aging, me thinks.

  57. I am actually pretty “active” compared to “passive” the tv is not turned on until my husband gets home we usually watch about two hours of tv before going to bed I also dont have cable I have netflix- I like to visit the art galleries in Savannah and venture out to see new sights. I could probably do more to be more active in the world since a good chunk of my time is spent creating art digitally or traditionally ( I am always entertaining myself though especially when I begin writing a story) I do the following: knit, crochet, paper crafts, and herbal sachets, jewelry making, and anything that sounds interesting to try especially if it is recycling or reusing…. I will admit I do tend to facebook a lot- but hey army wife here I have peeps I keep in touch with and fb just happens to be the medium- I do give myself a time limit on there though- it can be consuming.
    I used to be addicted to my cell phone- now I hardly use it. I am actually wondering why I even have it sometimes. I can’t imagine watching that much tv!!

  58. Mark! You forgot CATS! 😉

    I take at least three breaks during the day ( since I am home all day lucky me) to play with my cat I make sure she is up and moving we play a game of “tag” she will chase me paw at my leg then I will chase her and rough her up a bit… I guess I do not have an ordinary cat though she is sort of a CatDog- she actually hates other cats and prefers dogs.. also cats can be trained to high five, fetch,etc

    1. I’ve always been a dog person, never understood ppl that have cats.
      Then one day some homeless, malnourished kitten showed up at my door as I was ready to leave. I let it in, threw some food and water on hte floor and left the house.
      When I came back he was curled up and asleep on my couch.
      Needless to say, he never left, he decided to stay in a household with 4 dogs…odd little cat. He now weighs 15 lbs and listens like a dog, even speaks on command, what an animal!

  59. So, ad primal adherents, we’re supposed to have sex and wear Vibrams? That’s impossible. Everyone knows that Vibrams are the best form of birth control since those plastic-framed glasses of the 80’s.

  60. Today I had to work at a supermarket where I have never been before, in a town I don’t know well. I looked at a map before I left and tried to find it without my navigation system. Worked.

  61. Your articles have a great way of inspiring and I’m applying some of the points on that list already, including the act of commenting here. I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now and yet, this is my first post. Thank you Mark Sisson.

  62. Great post! I’ve been trying to watch TV less and play around with my 2 yo twins more. Has anyone seen the movie “Babies”? http://focusfeatures.com/babies
    I highly recommend this movie, shows the first year of life of four different babies in Namibia, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Mongolia. The babies in Africa and Mongolia had no media for entertainment and they seemed to me to be the happiest. They watched insects and played games with other family members outside. Very primal indeed!

  63. Amen to all of that! Thanks, Mark, for the excellent post! 3 months ago (before even going primal) I quit Facebook and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – I have TIME, enormous amounts of TIME now on my hands, to play with my son, to sit outside under the trees in the sunshine, watching our backyard chickens, and just existing – I have rediscovered the joy of talking & connecting face to face with friends instead of relying on social networking to get it done. I realized that at the end of my days, I want to say I have lived and participated in Life, not just watched it or read about it online.
    Great Article, as always!

  64. I just took up a new instrument myself and I’m loving it, although I should practice more.

    One other suggestion — you-pick farms!!! If you want to do more than just shop at the farmer’s market but you can’t fully commit to a garden, go to a you pick farm and pick it yourself. Picking your own berries in the hot sun is pretty primal.

    There are a lot more you-picks than you think, and they do more than just a few pumpkin hayrides. Every farm I’ve gone has its own little farmer’s market store with local veggies.

  65. My friends and I frequently play board games or other interactive games. I definitely prefer spending time with people over watching TV. I actually rarely watch TV any more. I only watch 2 or 3 shows regularly and that’s only if I can get them off Netflix or Hulu.

  66. So here I am commenting to the blog. The timing is optimal. The whole family actually turned off the TV last night and went to look at the approaching storm (desperately needed in dought-stricken Texas). We ended up locking ourselves out the house, but were able to eventually get back in. But during the time when we were out, it was great and my son and I set up a date for this evening to play chess.

  67. This is really an MDA ‘all time high’. Especially though this is cind of what I’ve been practicing during the 30 day challange. 🙂

  68. I love this blog post. It lines up with a book I just finished “WellBeing” by Tom Rath. Pretty much, we need to engage with other human beings. period.

  69. I can remember back in the 60’s as a child when we wanted to watch TV, we had to turn it on 10 minutes early so it would have the chance to “warm up” and have a good picture. We only turned it on when a particular show was on. Seems like these days, both internet and TV are “always on”. I’ll admit an addiction to the History Channel though…

  70. Stop using porn. Have real sex instead… Easier said than done for some…

    In the absence of sex, I’d vote for abstinence anyday!

    Great post, but why read fiction when you could be telling stories!

    But obviously, there’s only a few people in a tribe with that kind of creative talent.

    All the standard Groks just bulls**t unconvincingly about the size of that boar they once killed with their bare hands… You know who you are…

  71. What a great post – and great comments! I’m going to start doing some of these suggestions right now. And I had what Oprah would call an “ah-ha” moment. If you’re regularly interacting with and getting along with your neighbors – in a face-to-face kinda way, rather than via phone or Facebook! – you’re WAY less likely to become one of those “you kids get off my grass” kind of cantankerous elders (or young’uns!). It’s the isolation that breeds the hostility, seems to me. We just aren’t meant to be holed up in our caves with our TVs…

  72. I used to forge steel. I don’t think it counts as primal, per say. But it sure is one of the most primal feelings I have ever had. You heat up a peice of steel until its red or white hot and then pound it with a hammer, sparks fling everywhere, sweat beading down your face as the heat blasts your skin. Man, I need to make the time to do that again.

    It’s crazy how hobbies go out the window once you become an adult.

  73. Wow. This is such a fantastic post…and couldn’t have come at a better time. I guess a lot of people have commented similarly. I’ve always been a great couch potato, and it’s just gotten worse since I’ve gotten to college.

    Since I don’t really like the direction my life’s heading in (mostly due to laziness and complacency on my part) I’ve started becoming more active in all the different aspects of my life. I’ve taken up learning a new language, improving my abilities on the guitar and harmonica, as well as making myself spend more time writing. I’ve been trying to be more active physically, too. Not just ‘working out,’ mind you, but just getting outside and moving around during the day and seeing things.

    It’s hard, but I figure it’ll be worth it if I can look back years down the road and be satisfied that I made myself develop an ‘action habit,’ so to speak.

  74. This is what we need more of: our own realities. Thanks again, Mark, for steering us in the right direction!

  75. You make me glad I quite watching TV 14 years ago! Yep, we rent the occasional movie, but other than the ‘net (and obviously here I am), we entertain ourselves. So bravo!

  76. I grew up in a household with no TV. It was awesome (even though then I thought it was so uncool). We played games – board games, all kinds of card games, etc., especially during the winter. We interacted, debated, and in general bonded and had fun. I had three younger brothers for whom I would write plays and then we would act them out for mom and dad. Most of our downtime was in the winter because we were self-sufficient, growing all our own food and hunting for our meat. We made our own maple syrup. All of this wasn’t necessarily fun then, but looking back I’m so glad I grew up as I did because now I have a whole lot of skills a ton of other people don’t (which makes me less of a victim should the world end someday). I think Grok’s fun may have had lessons to it – races to keep bodies primed for the hunt, games to keep the mind sharp, and so on. Just about anything can be “fun” if you make it so!

    1. Wow that is so unusual and awesome. I just think of the things I could have done in my childhood without tv , probably would have learned to sew, learned another language fluently perhaps, etc..
      But whenever my Mom tried to restrict tv we would scream and holler 🙂

  77. I’m so glad I deleted my Facebook!

    I like the blog one, I very rarely leave comments or reply to comments of others. Maybe I’ll start leaving more.

    Also I’ve been thinking about going to a farmers market for my vege. Will start doing that too!

    I laughed at the last one, and joked, ” what if it’s ‘primal porn'”? Then thought I better not search that because it might be rather disgusting! Ahahahaha.

    1. Good God I hate Facebook. People may think me the wierdest person on campus, but I just hate it so much! They should add a feature where you can not only add your friends but also add ‘enemies’ and write horrible stuff. As if it needed more stress inducing properties, haha!

  78. Great stuff, everyone! I read through all of the comments.

    This is one of the areas I’m struggling with myself.

    I just order 4 functional anatomy books to start reading real books, not ebooks nor mere blogs. I’m a personal trainer, to specify. Doing this helps me eliminate a lot of computer time.

    Another thing I’ve been doing is a lot of networking. I have 4-5 networking events coming up and I have been meeting a bunch of people in person through Facebook. That has helped me increase my network with great people. So I can spend great time with more people in person.

    I also love fishing, but unfortunately haven’t done a lot of it. Walking in nature and exploring it is definitely another great thing to do.

    I also recommend people to volunteer for non-profit organizations. I’m currently involved only with Toastmasters Organization, but I want to find another one that has environment and health in their best interest.

    With my social network growing, I’m going to plan a lot of meetings to discuss training, nutrition, and lifestyle. I’m also going to hold board, card, and sport games at my place or elsewhere to be more active with friends.

  79. Universally, all groups made work into entertainment. From barn raisings, quilting bees, community dances, they all featured physical work, teamwork, elaborate cooking and shared meals, socialization, and they were multigenerational.

    So my .02 is to contribute to community needs such as animal shelter volunteering, coaching people searching for jobs, mentoring students, volunteering to do house repairs for disabled and elderly folks, visiting those whose social needs aren’t being met (unable to drive or use public transportation, those who are shunned/ostracized), and putting your great health to work (the physical work helps others as it keeps you strong and flexible). The artificial creation of work via gyms and “workouts” is insanity in a world that’s crumbling due to a lack of workers.

    1. Thank you!

      And I’ll add “youth sports” to your last sentence.

      How many people spend all their “free” time shuffling their kids back and forth from this game to that practice. They never see each other, never eat at home, don’t have time to help anyone else.

  80. TV off… check.
    Systematic purge of mindless facebook content…check.
    Dog… check and check.
    Real sex… check.

    I wish I could get more up-and-about time. I’m in college and a commuter, so I spend tons of time in the car, on the computer and sitting at a desk (not all three at once… yikes!) working on armloads of homework every day and it won’t be stopping any time soon. I’m working on cutting down my internet use to just emails, homework, and blogs.

  81. Yeah, I have not had a dog in many years. I am planning to adopt one in Fall/Winter 2012.
    I am just researching the breeds now. I really like dachshunds but I am still contemplating which breed will be best for me.

  82. You are awesome for this “More Dexter, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad”. My three favorite shows in one blog, epic!

  83. We don’t have a TV. We’re not some weirdos, though! Sometimes we watch some interesting stuff on the laptop. But just some minutes ago, my husband said: We have so much to do and so many interests and so many interesting books and a garden and two kids and friends and so on and so on – I have no idea how to fit in watching TV, too!

  84. I did not know there were Paleo meet-up groups! I was just wishing I knew people in the area who did Paleo/Primal (I have friends on it, but all out of state). Thank you for the links!! =)

  85. Well, I don’t have a tv, and my home computer has been off, since… a long ago. How good is that!

    Still sitting 7 hours a day is too much, but at least at home I can enjoy real communication with my family.

    What I do most of the time, except for cooking is just playing with, dancining, or reading to my 3yo son.

    I wish I was more physically active though.

  86. Some great suggestions. And as I read it, I could not help but reflect on the current issue of childhood obesity. We got sent out to run and play all day all summer, or into the evening when school was in session. That does not happen any more for a variety of reasons, and it is showing in the lack of fitness and excess weight of our kids. It is also likely to manifest itself in the creativity they exhibit — we had to use our imaginations to keep ourselves entertained. Today so many kids don’t. They just flip on a gadget. Worse yet, if kids don’t develop an appreciation of nature and our environment, they aren’t likely to be motivated to preserve and protect it. See the book “Last Child In The Woods.”

  87. Hey Mark. Excellent article! Life’s meant to be fun and active.

    Especially after spending 8 hours of my day behind a computer, I need to have some form of physical interaction with the world around me.

    Here’s to a more active life!

  88. I love tv, too much. I get addicted to it and all I want to do is watch tv. But I’ve found that I’m happier if I don’t watch a lot of tv, and much productive too. I just got married and we’ve decided on only an hour a day, 6 days a week, and not during dinner time. And I’ll add a couple hours a week on tv shows that only I watch. It’s going to be hard but I know it’ll be worthwhile.

  89. Just read this post and as you can see, I’m already acting on it by replying 🙂
    I’m going to have two coffee dates with friends this weekend, as this post got me to go online on facebook (maybe not quite the point, but I don’t have everybodys phone numbers…)
    Have to say though, as has been pointed out further up, missing to list crafts surprised me, too. I have to make my own clothes because of my apparently not very standard figure, so I knit a lot and sometimes sew things, too, which keeps me “well” occupied while being “badly” occupied watching Star Trek. Hey, it’s winter- and the Christmas Market is closed, so no Glühwein available 🙁

  90. Thank you, Mark, for the article & others for their words! I’m recovering from depression, on medication, family history, laid off from non-profit, etc., & was actually googling about how to literally get up out of bed when I ran across this (actually about reading & passive entertainment) – AND the most amazing thing happened – I literally felt my brain wake up! A tingling sensation at the tope of my head, over my right eye, & a sudden sharpening of my senses, & I could feel me feet. I think this woke me up, at last, & I’m so grateful now I’m crying! Oh praise the heavens, I’m crying again, shucks now I thought about it & it’s over, but the tingle in my legs remains & I’m about to get myself up & out of bed &, after bookmarking the site, tape off the TV & the books & make myself live again. Thank you all so very much.

  91. Why are there no outdoor activities or adventure sports listed at the end? Surely that is the most imortant and effective way to combat sedentary passive lifestyles.

    Instead of watching an adventure movie, why not go on a real adventure.

  92. This is a good reminder to me how far I’ve come in a year! I’m stuck in the house healing my coccyx, and I’ve never been more bored in my life, although I have plenty of access to TV, internet and books. I need to get out of the house!!!

  93. I’ve been too busy to watch TV. Looking through my recordings I have 26 hours of shows I’ve just not had the time to watch. I used to catch up when I was sick, but having not so much as a cold in recent times I haven’t had that day or two in bed to marathon watch everything I’ve been missing.

  94. I plan on doing it by starting right now. Thanks for the boost! I’ll be back with an update on how it goes..!

  95. I love this but I really struggle with gaming. Can I get someone’s take on this? I don’t watch TV, movies, sports, news or porn; but I do game (Rainbow Six Siege, GTA V, Dead by Daylight and a few other multiplayer/story-driven games) about 2-3 hours a day. I have been feeling like quitting cold turkey but I read non-fiction daily, work 10 hours (work week), exercise and prepare healthy meals. Am I being too strict with myself?

  96. It’s been quite a time since I go out with my friends outside work. It’s time to plan more outings with them! Thank you for writing this, made me realize how much we can do in life aside from consuming stuff.