About two months ago I made a radical change in the form of one baby step. The result was a shift in my worldview, I dropped ten pounds and have never been happier in my life.

The baby step came in the form of no more television. According to positive psychologist Martin Seligman, watching television for extended periods of time is the equivalent of placing yourself in a mild state of depression. Apathy follows.

It may seem simple enough to snap off the TV and do something else, but what happened thereafter for me was life-altering. Instead of flopping in front of the tube every night, I began writing more, eating less and sleeping better. I’ve even started learning French, thanks to supportive friends who have helped me tremendously (je vous adore!).  It is as though I have fully recognized that how I spend my time really does make a difference.

And it shows.

My negative emotions, while not completely eradicated, have receded to the background. Sure, I still get upset with my kids, but I am no longer subjecting myself to the constant barrage of negativity that comes from the TV.

I had no idea how impactful one decision could be.

It may seem paradoxical for someone who actually works in television and film not to want to actually watch it. I am still impressed by images on the Internet, occasionally read the newspaper and peruse business Web sites to keep up on the latest developments. But abandoning my nightly tube-watching has uplifted my spirits and has had a centering effect on my well-being.

When we look at our habits, we may think we can’t live without certain things. We may be so convinced of their inalienable place in our lives that we don’t even question the habit itself. But I bet you anything there is something you can do without and that will actually make you feel better once you depart from its stranglehold around your neck.

What happens next can be quite amazing. Suddenly new people emerge to cheer you on in your new-found authenticity. Perhaps they have been there all along, but you felt you didn’t have the time to pay attention. Or maybe they are new friends you’ve discovered because you’ve magically got so much more time through that one baby step to really enjoy them.

It is an endeavor worth pursuing. What baby step can you take today to make that radical change?

The earliest surviving depiction of the Korean...

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Of all the OECD countries, Korea has by far the longest working hours of any other nation. Logging an average of 2256 hours in 2008, Korea also has the third highest suicide rate behind Hungary and Japan.

In a recent Financial Times article (German edition), the head of the state-run tourist agency, whose name is none other than Lee Charm, is actually lobbying for workers to take their mandated two weeks off per year. Some companies are even blocking their computer access so they can’t work even if they wanted to.

Looks like Korea could use some slow. What they may not know yet is that slow really is faster. The good news? It looks like The Power of Slow is being translated into Korean next.

When you compare productivity to the number of hours worked, you will see that less is more. Holland reached nearly the same productivity rate (as measured by GDP per hours worked) as the United States, but logged 390 fewer hours than their American pals. That’s nearly ten weeks fewer than US workers.

Cultural pressure plays a large role in Korean’s work ethic. They value face time and even if they are literally bidding their time until the boss goes home, they are fearful of taking time off because it might deem them as a disposable worker. It sounds familiar. American workaholism is based on the same premise. Time is money, but we all know that is no longer true.

Time is time. It equals your existence. Time-off can save it, too.

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Winter has Europe in its firm grip. This morning I grappled with myself about whether or not I should go to the gym. My thinking went like this:

Angel side of myself: “I have a manuscript to edit. I really should work on that since I’ve been gone a lot this week.”

Slow side of myself: “You’ve been gone a lot this week. That’s right. And you know are more productive when you’ve exercised.”

Devil side of myself: “I want chocolate.”

Angel side of myself: “Okay, Slow, you can have your way, but remember. Go, well, slow. It’s icey out there.”

The sun blinded me against the white landscape as I pulled out of the driveway, only to get stuck in the neighbor’s parking space. I tried to move forward, but the car spun its wheels.

I rocked the car back and forth and realized I was going nowhere. By now, sleep had fallen from my lids. In an adrenaline rush that only driving in dangerous weather conditions can provide, I carefully pulled back into the garage and smiled.

“Okay, Angel, Slow and Devil. We’re not going anywhere. Manuscript editing it is!”

Sometimes we need to find out for ourselves that no movement is the best move we can make!

What else are you doing while reading this? Shopping on Zappos? Checking your email? Tweeting? The World Wide Web is both a blessing and a curse. It has revolutionized countless aspects of our lives and makes working from anywhere in the world both intriguing and possible. The Internet can be a fun, interactive, community-building, and fascinating cosmos. It can also eat up more of your time than you realize as you ‘quickly’ surf the Internet for something, only to bounce errantly from one Web site to the next. I am guilty of it. You might be, too. We are entangled in the Web like rose tendrils on a lattice.

Love it. Hate it. It’s here to stay.

According to a recent social media addiction study by Retrevo, almost one third of those surveyed under age 35 admitted to checking their social media pages such as Twitter and Facebook more than ten times a day. Thirty-six percent of the 35 and under group stated they update their status right after having sex. It may be healthier than having a cigarette, but is it normal? Forty percent in this same age group admitted to updating their profiles while driving (which definitely isn’t safe). This isn’t to say that older generations aren’t fallen victim to Facebook syndrome. In 2009, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook was no other than the 55 and over crowd!

Post-coital tweets and obsessive Facebook checking are only the tip of the iceberg, however. As more and more adults go online (it is 80% of the US adult population at present), Internet addiction has become a more prevalent issue. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a proper diagnosis of Internet Addiction Disorder requires that three or more of the following symptoms must be present over any given twelve month period.

1. Your tolerance level increases while the level of satisfaction diminishes. You need more and more time on the Internet to get the same kick.

2.  You experience two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after reducing or stopping your online time. These symptoms then cause distress or impair your ability to interact socially.

3.  The only way to alleviate these symptoms is to use the Internet.

4.  You use the Internet more often, and for longer, than you intended.

5.  You spend a big chunk of your day or night on Internet-related activities.

6.  You give up important social, occupational, or recreational activities to be online instead.

7.  You risk the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your excessive Internet usage.

Like television, the Internet has a way of drawing you in and holding your attention. Other signs of a true digital addiction include severe weight loss or gain from hours of Internet surfing, nervousness, irritability and insomnia. What can we do about our digital dilemma? Certainly instant communication can alleviate our workload, but it can contribute greatly to it as well. Here are a few strategies to balance online and offline time.

  1. Insert a digital-free day (DFD) into the least busy day of your week. If you’re a busy business executive, for instance, it may be best to make your DFD on a Saturday. Make use of your auto-responder or voicemail to let people know you are unavailable. If you’re a mother, perhaps your DFD day should be on a Sunday, or whichever day you do a lot of other chores such as driving the kids to practice, doing the laundry and paying bills anyway.
  2. Take a cell phone sabbatical for an afternoon. Lock it in your trunk or give it to a friend for a specified time.
  3. Plug into the tangible world around you every day. Do at least one daily unplugged activity such as going to the gym, socializing with friends face to face or attending a cultural event.
  4. Make an effort to have face-to-face contact with people every day. Give someone a real-live hug. In fact, hugs are most certainly one of the best kinds of contact you can have.
  5. If you find you have symptoms such as the ones listed above, get professional help. The first net addiction recovery program in Seattle opened its doors recently. Visit (http://www.netaddictionrecovery.com) for more.

The Internet offers infinite possibilities for us all. Be sure, however, that your virtual world is only an augmentation to the real one in which we live.

**This article was originally published on WowOwow.com under the title ‘7 Signs You’re an Internet Addict’.