Stop Living Vicariously Through Others

Photo by Riley McCullough / Courtesy Unsplash

This is going to be a difficult article to write and maybe a difficult article to read, for some. This topic has NOT been on my mind for a week or even a year. It has been on my mind for decades. And to be real, I have not always processed it correctly.

I am going to address a concern that has plagued our culture since long before my birth. It is the particular problem of living vicariously through others. I am not saying it is bad to have mentors or even a role model. I am saying that, however, when you stop your life to watch others live, you are on dangerous ground.

Before I go any further, I have to make a confession. Since I bought my first pack of football cards in the first grade, I have been a sports junkie. I have watched more sports on TV than I could ever calculate. And often as an adult, it has made me question myself. I have cancelled plans or left family functions before because of a sporting event. That is nothing to be proud of.

What is Living Vicariously?

Living vicariously through someone is not usually done on purpose. Unfortunately, what we perceive as good intentions can easily turn into vicarious living. Here are some signs that you may be living vicariously through someone else:

  • You read about or watch others live your dreams instead of reaching them yourself.
  • You spend lots of time on social media wishing you had what others have.
  • You dictate which hobbies or interests your children or loved ones take part in.
  • You encourage others to take chances you won’t.
  • You actively seek celebrity gossip.
  • You binge-watch reality TV.
  • You become intensely interested in characters from television, movies, or books.
  • You have intricate fantasies about being someone else. (Better Health)

And, for many people, I have to add sports!!!!!!!!! Sports are often an obsession!

At no point do I mean to suggest that you throw your TV, books, and movies in the trash. However, like everything, they should be done in moderation. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Sports, in particular, have always fascinated me. Both as a game and a social phenomenon, it is a strange concept. We love to watch people perform sports at a high level. However, if we find out later that the participants now have a traumatic brain injury, it is no big deal. We will keep watching the game. It is an uncomfortable truth.

I have seen grown people act as if they themselves won a national championship when their team wins the big game. There have also been reports of people killing friends or family because their team lost. What?! That is insane.

So, let me say what it took me decades to admit to myself! I have never won a Super Bowl. I have never lost a Super Bowl. I have never been – or will I ever be – part of a national championship team. I was just a guy sitting my fat a$$ on the couch, watching others. Period! It was never more than that. Sad, sad, sad.

In a world, where must people complain about not having enough time to do all they need to do, here is some friendly advice – don’t spend an entire weekend binge-watching Netflix or sports. Now, I am not trying to be judgmental, but if I were, here is what I would say: don’t spend an entire weekend binge-watching Netflix or sports!!

So, if you’re still reading, let me go on with the rest of the article. Use your seconds, minutes, hours, and days like they are gold. Guard them with everything you have. Treat them like there are the only thing you have. Because, in reality, they are the only thing you really have to give that is priceless.

People can leave their loved ones cars, money, houses, and jewels, but when you are gone you don’t have one extra second to give. No, not one! Guard your time and suffer no one who wants you to waste it!

So, I leave you with some simple guidelines to help you live your best life – guidelines I have found on the Internet and other places to help me be more mentally and physically fit:

  1. Get up early.
  2. Organize your day mentally.
  3. Find the time to exercise. It doesn’t matter when you do it. Just get it done.
  4. Drink two liters of water.
  5. Eat a healthy diet that can sustain you.
  6. Take 10 minutes in your day to pray or mediate in complete quiet.
  7. Take 30 minutes to read a book that will help with YOUR self-improvement.
  8. Take 30 minutes a day to write, work on a side project, or hobby.

After working, taking care of the house, children/grandchildren, and mowing the yard, if you have some spare time, watch some TV. If you are retired, find a worthy organization for which you can volunteer. You will be a better person for it.

Your time is priceless. Don’t waste it watching others live.

Joseph St. John