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A worthwhile use of my time?

I put a question to myself recently that has had me pondering for a while and I would welcome the views of others.

I am very fortunate in that I have a wonderful family and kids, in 2008 I survived a brain tumour and am in good health, am intelligent and well educated (three degrees so far), and am financially stable. I believe that I could do anything that I apply myself to and feel that to let my life pass by without doing something worthwhile with it would be a waste of this opportunity.

So my question was "What worthwhile activity or hobby can I do with the time I have available so not to feel that my life could have been put to better use?".

I spend plenty of time with my family and kids, they are always my priority. I have a good career and am committed to doing well in that too. However I find that in an evening when the kids are in bed and sometimes when my wife has gone to bed, that I have perhaps 1-2 hours per day to do something with myself. Sometimes I use that time to play piano, to play games on my xbox, to read or simply to do nothing at all.

I have a personal interest in history and religion and have considered further study but a thought came to me recently, that I could learn all there is to learn about the past, but when my time comes, I will take that knowledge with me and it will have been of no use to either myself or to anyone else. Of course, not every activity has to have an end goal and it can be the carrying out of an activity that is in itself worthwhile.

If I could spend say 2 hours per day for the next, I don't know, 30 years say, that's 20000+ hours that could be used to achieve anything at all. How do I find that something to put my time and passion in to or am I overthinking my life?



  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran

    I think perhaps that 20,000 hours is overkill for almost anything except meditating and study of Buddha's teachings.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2015

    I dunno, sounds like you already have lots on your plate! Have you considered volunteering some of your spare time to a worthwhile cause? It could be something as simple as shovelling an elderly neighbour's sidewalk when it snows. Find a need and fill it. =)

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator


    Create things of usefulness and beauty.

    If you can find classes or a studio nearby that will permit you to express a creativity that is all your own, you could make marvelous magical things.....

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    You seem to feel that what you already do has insufficient connection or worth. Perhaps you could take up a hobby that would quell that erroneous notion.

    Whatever you discover, just make sure to give it away.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    A worthwhile use of your time?

    As you are a veteran on a Buddhist site, perhaps addressing the karmic stream that
    brought you into existence might be something to match your talents.

  • what ever you learn and whatever you do you can not take with you when you die


    if you gain the knowledge through Insight-meditation (vipassana) you can carry it with you even after you die

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2015

    @Walker's idea of volunteering is a sound one @Lee82, however if you want something worthwhile and challenging (and you are somewhat 'reasonably' mentally stable) then why not volunteer your time as a phone counsellor, for example, with a suicide intervention helpline....Both worthwhile.and challenging ....

    Or you could just spend the time meditating which is for some a challenge in itself :) (But well worthwhile in the long run)

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    Spend your time on your Buddhist practice. The only really worthwhile use of our time is to work towards enlightenment.
    Congratulations on beating cancer, btw.

  • @Lee82 said:
    Sometimes I use that time to play piano, to play games on my xbox, to read or simply to do nothing at all.

    Have you considered 'Trivial Pursuit'. Maybe you can find an online version o:)

    am I overthinking my life?

    I find no evidence of thinking. Just so you know. Good luck with your spiritual path, should you ever find it. B)

  • Thanks for the comments.

    @Walker Unfortunately the time I usually have available is sporadic or late in an evening which makes it unsuitable for many volunteering activities (for example my wife and son have just gone for a lie down for an hour leaving me with some free time).

    @federica Art is something I would love to be better at but is probably the one thing I really can't do. I've tried learning to draw in the past and I'm terrible at it! Do you do pottery yourself?

    @FoibleFull Thanks. It wasn't cancer, it was a benign hemangioblastoma that fortunately they were able to remove. Every scan since has been all clear and they will continue to screen me until I'm 40; was 26 at the time!

    The obvious answer I suppose, and the one I expected, is to spend the time on Buddhist study and meditation. My Buddhist study to date has left me in a wholly content and stress-free place in my life, safe in the knowledge that the future will be what it will be and that I will exist in that future, and then I won't, until the next time.

  • StingRayStingRay Glasgow Explorer
    edited December 2015

    @Lee82 yes meditating and the Buddhist spiritual path will the most challenging and at the same time best way to spend your spare time. I love the saying that goes something like this - apologies if I may have not worded this correctly - "Conquering your "self" is harder than conquering an army of 1000 men. "

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @Lee82 -- No one ever took up a Buddhist practice because s/he was so damned happy. One of the good things about starting from a happy place is that, since all things invariably change, you might as well be prepared. :)

  • StingRayStingRay Glasgow Explorer
    edited December 2015

    I may have been a zero out. It should have been 10000 men

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Go to bed earlier, with your wife, and get up earlier so your available time shifts from evening to morning.
    Use the time to minimalize your life. Go through books, shoes, clothes and donate them to the needy. Pack up some brown paper lunch sacks and hand them out to homeless people before you go to work. Meditate more.

    I go to bed with my husband, but I get up early so I have quiet time most mornings before the kids get up. That is when I go outside and watch the sun come up. It is when I go for pre-dawn walks and talk to the deer and coyotes. It is when I sit and just enjoy my coffee and be present in the quiet. It is when I am most in touch with nature and the world and I feel very grounded. That alone is worth my time, as it sets up my day to go pretty well.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

    Some volunteer work can be done at home. You may find an organization that needs help with office type work, or book-keeping, or web design.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    If you don't have a daily meditation practice, then a daily meditation practice. :)

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