The entertainment industry wants us to take a break, relax, and enjoy life instead of working so hard. “You deserve a break!” they say. I used to believe it, but I’ve found it to be a lie.
Rest vs. Entertainment
Yes, rest is important for our bodies and souls. We cannot work constantly or our quality of work degenerates. Yet the best kind of break is true rest, not entertainment.
Sit quietly, take a nap, meditate, or pray. These forms of genuine rest leave us feeling refreshed and ready to face a new challenge.
Mindless entertainment leaves me feeling empty and often just as tired, if not more so, than before. I enjoy it in the moment, but it’s like eating candy – it’s a temporary enjoyment that leaves me feeling a bit sick – especially if I overdose.
Different Work Is a Break
The other option for taking a break is to do some other necessary or meaningful work of a different type. It is temporarily hard to engage in work when I’m tired, but if I get up and start sweeping after writing at the computer for an hour then I start to feel invigorated by the physical activity and regain my energy and capacity for mental thought.
A Vicious Cycle
If I’m tired from the physical effort of cooking, cleaning, and running after four kids the last thing I want to do is more work. I want to do something for me! At times like these my old self would self-indulge in a puzzle or game only to have my problems come crashing down on me again a few moments later. I would delay the horrible moment of realization by extending the self-indulgent time. Instead of taking a well-deserved break, I would slip into a vicious cycle of sloth and guilt.
A Virtuous Cycle
If instead I discipline myself to sit down and rest my body and put my mind to work, I can brainstorm solutions to a problem in family life and stand up again feeling energized and full of new hope. If I’m too tired to even think I can sit down and snuggle or read with the kids and get some rest as well as invest in their emotional well-being.
Afterwards I feel refreshed, productive, and ready to take on another challenge. A little initial effort creates a virtuous cycle of productivity and energy.
Rest energizes. Entertainment drains.
Even a small amount of rest helps, but entertainment is never enough. It leaves me wanting more until I finally break away and despise myself for wasting so much time.
Since I’ve realized the lie of entertainment I’m more rested, get a TON more done, and am much, much happier.
Nobody can define for us what is rest and what is entertainment, and I’m not suggesting we abstain from all entertainment. A little candy is a good thing, and so is a little entertainment. The trick is to listen to our hearts and not social media or the incredibly sophisticated advertisements of the entertainment industry.
Do you agree? How do you use entertainment responsibly?
Update: See my own response here.