How many hours a day do you spend in front of a television screen? How about smartphones or computer screen? What are you being screened from? How much of your life comes at you through a screen, vicariously? How are you affected by standardized time, designed solely to synchronize your movements with those of millions of other people?

Who or what controls your minutes and hours that add up to your life? What are you saving up your time for? How are you affected by the requirements of efficiency, which place value on the product rather than the process, on the future rather than the present, the present moment that is getting shorter and shorter as we speed faster and faster into the future?

How many dollars an hour does it take to pay you to stay inside and sell things or file papers? What can you get later that will make up for this day of your life? Many of us go through our daily routines on autopilot without a single thought about what our lives actually comprise. I know this because I am 100% guilty of this as well, but realize that society and the media have played a large part in conditioning humans to be this way. Everyday millions of people turn on their smartphones, TVs or computers and live vicariously through the fictional heroes and heroines that the media influences us with. While there is nothing wrong with looking up to someone with positive traits which you wish to inherit, whatever happened to becoming someone yourself?

The next time you watch TV, pay attention to what is going on and you see people are literally being brainwashed since they are kids to want and consume unnecessarily. Society needs to maintain this cycle of consumption, or else how would multibillion-dollar corporations make money from selling us useless material objects, which we slave for our entire lives until we retire in our 60s? Tactics such as planned obsolescence, where goods are intentionally produced to be defective within a certain number of years, are used to keep us coming back for more and more, until we realize we don’t really need 90% of the crap that fills up our houses. Unfortunately, by then we will be too old to actually enjoy our lives.

It starts when we are children and forced into daily routines, which suppress our individualities and to constrain our thinking to fit with society’s needs. We move through preschool, kindergarten, grade school, and high school at the beginning stages of our lives, always told that we could begin to enjoy ourselves at the next stage. We go through college with the same mentality and are quickly pushed into the workforce. Now we work our way up the ranks of the corporate ladder, still blowing through life and waiting to start actually living.

By the time we realize we have been duped, we are usually well into our 50s and 60s and have little time left to actually live. It is then that we truly realize that we were supposed to enjoy the present moment of each beautiful stage. I believe that this is why midlife crises often occur, and why they are attributed to western society as well. Not many other societies in the world place so much emphasis on material wealth and the importance of individual social status. Why else are modernized countries like the United States, which is supposedly one of the “best countries”, not even ranked in the top 100 happiest countries in the world? Your life here is limited; so, don’t waste it trying to live by someone else’s expectations or as a result of other people’s thinking.

Every day when you wake up, get to work on accomplishing what you were put on this planet to do.

Ever since I began contemplating these thoughts, I asked myself this question at the end of each day: “If I died today, would I be satisfied with what I have accomplished?” I don’t even have to think of a response, because deep down I know what my real answer is. Since I did this, I have found that my life started to head in the right direction.