Confession time: I’m addicted to Netflix. Now, before you start chuckling under your breath, let me just say that it’s a real thing. Self-employment and working from home is wonderful—seriously, I absolutely love it—but there are moments when it can be a challenge, just like any job. One of those moments is the sheer amount of time you literally spend alone. Seriously, so much time.
And the thing is, I love being alone. I like to describe myself as an outgoing introvert. I like spending time with people, but only to a certain extent. Otherwise, I value my alone time enormously. But when you work from home, sometimes that alone time is a little too much. And the silence of being the only person there can becoming deafening. So, I turn on Netflix.
It started out as not a big deal. I would watch Netflix while working on short projects that didn’t require very much attention, then I started watching Netflix over my “lunch break,” then I started watching Netflix all the time, only pausing it occasionally when I really had to focus. I found a lot of comfort in it. There were other noises besides my own breathing; there were conversations going on; in a sense, the characters were my “coworkers.” But soon enough, I had Netflix on practically all the time. At the very least it was background noise, at its worst I found myself paying more attention to the show than to my own husband’s conversation.
I think the majority of people in society today would say that my behavior was completely normal. They wouldn’t even find a problem with it. Practically everyone watches Netflix all the time anyways. The reality is, unless something is alcohol, drugs or smoking, we tend to have this mindset that we can’t get addicted to it. And even if we are addicted, it’s not like it’s that bad for us, right? Netflix, social media, T.V. shows, music—these are all things we can get addicted to and no one around us even bats an eye. If we aren’t externally suffering, then there doesn’t seem to be a need for change.
I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with any of these things. Trust me, I love Netflix. I love social media, I love T.V., I love music, etc.
But none of these things feed my soul.
If I sit and watch 3 hours of The Vampire Diaries, I’m not going to come out on the other side feeling like I learned something, grew or found some sort of personal development. I’m going to feel the exact same, except rooting for Team Damon. But if I sit and read a challenging book, or spend time listening to an interesting podcast, or sit with a friend and talk through life together, I’m going to come out on the other side having grown in some way.
Feeding your soul isn’t easy. Feeding your soul means growing, growing means personal development and personal development means challenging yourself. And trust me, between challenging myself and watching Netflix, I’m going to want to choose Netflix every single time. It’s mind-numbing, and definitely the easier route of the two. But in the long run, feeding your soul is going to strengthen you in every way possible.
In my heart of hearts, I feel like I knew all of this from the beginning. I knew watching so much Netflix wasn’t benefitting me at all. I knew comparing myself to other people on social media was unhealthy. I knew some of the music I listened to was complete garbage. But I was comfortable. I didn’t want to challenge myself. I was completely fine being stuck exactly where I was.
And then all of a sudden I wasn’t.
You see, if you don’t feed your soul then you literally starve your soul. You stagnate your own personal wellbeing, you stop growing, stop living the best life that you were designed to live. If you don’t feed your soul, then the rest of you begins to falter as well.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized this. I could feel myself reliving the same thing day after day. By all worldly accounts, I was doing great. But personally, intimately, soulfully, I knew I wasn’t growing. My soul was starving. So, I started feeding it. Here’s how:
1. Get away from technology.
I am a huge advocate for technology. Seriously, I love it. And when used appropriately, I believe technology can have an amazing impact on our world by connecting people and ideas. But let’s be honest, technology also sucks sometimes. And more often than not, it can starve your soul. So get away from it. Even if that’s something as simple as not checking your phone for an evening, or refusing to watch Netflix for a week, or reading a book instead of scrolling through social media.
And trust me, I am my own worst culprit at all of this. I need to take my own advice. There are definitely times where I catch myself feeling a significant urge to be on technology, rather than to be in the actual present. But fighting this urge and focusing on things without a screen is how you feed your soul.
2. Focus on positivity.
Holy cow, the world is negative. Negativity surrounds us at every single corner. People share negative things online, networks talk about negative news every hour, arguments are ablaze in the comment section between people who have never even met each other in person. Here’s another embarrassing confession: I’m pretty addicted to reading the comments on social media. Seriously, just scrolling through meaningless, negative comments from people that I’ll never meet in my life. And why? It does absolutely nothing positive for my life.
Instead, focus on places where you find positivity. Feed your soul by following inspirational people online, listening to joyful podcasts or reading uplifting books. When you see something negative, avoid it. Don’t feed into the negativity by reading comments, following negative people or even watching depressing shows. Seek out the light in everyday life and stay as close to it as possible.
3. Find your people.
This is the biggie. Find your people. Your tribe. Your “help you hide the body” homies. Find those people that are going to pour into you with positivity and love, rather than tear you down. Find the people that make you feel accepted, happy and hopeful. Find the ones that you can laugh until you cry with, then actually cry with later on. Human beings were not made to be solitary. We were made to be in community, and the right community can be the most nourishing thing possible for your soul.
I’ve been trying to intentionally apply these principles to my life lately, and I’m going to be honest, I am far from perfect at it. I still have days where all I want to do is sit in my comfort zone and binge watch The Office for the 17th time. But as much as I love Jim and Pam, they’re not going to do anything to help me grow into the person I want to be. I have to do that myself, with a whole lot of prayer.
My goal isn’t to give up Netflix entirely. To live in such extremes I think loses the focus of balance. Instead, my goal is strengthen and condition myself to live outside of my comfort zone, and live in a place of growth. Live somewhere where I feel challenged, I feel empowered and I feed my soul every day.