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Your Life in Jelly Beans

Lana Hawk

The other day, I showed my 8th grade students a video titled “Your Life in Jelly Beans”. This guy measured out the average life span using jelly beans to represent days. He then broke down that time into sections, removing jelly beans when they had been used up. Here was his breakdown of the average American life.

28,835 days in an average American lifetime

We spend…

    •    … 5,475 days in the first 15 years of your life

    •    … 8,477 days asleep

    •    … 1,635 days eating, prepping or cleaning up meals

    •    … 3,202 days at work

    •    … 1,099 days traveling, commuting, going somewhere

    •    … 2,676 days watching television

    •    … 1,576 days doing household activities

    •    …    564 days caring for the ones we love

    •    …    671 days doing bathroom related things

    •    …    720 days participating in community activities

    •    … 2,740 days left for everything else… how much was wasted?

Do you know what my students said when it finished? That’s depressing. Why yes, you astute adolescents, some of it is quite depressing. Here is a glimpse into my internal monologue. Did this guy just throw away the first 15 years of our life and call it nothing? Ouch. I think I may sleep more than the average human. If we spend that much time working, it makes it that much more important to love what you do. Adam and I might be above average on recreational travel, but we balance it out with short commutes. I hate “household activities” like regular cleaning. I really wish I could hire somebody to take over that 1,576 days of work. Only 564 days caring for the ones we love? That seems awfully low. I hope I am above average on that one.

That internal monologue is all well and good, but my two biggest takeaways surrounded the issue of TV and our remaining days.

  1. TELEVISION: After seeing this, why would I ever waste away 2,676 days of my life watching TV? According to these numbers, that is 9% of my life. 9%! Doing what? Learning something new? Rarely. Stimulating my brain? Hardly. Caring for others? Definitely a no. Adam and I have cut out most of our TV watching for this reason. We want to people that learn and do, not just sit and zone out.
  2. WHAT’S LEFT: 2,740 days left. In the video he mentions that this is the time left to laugh, cry, get on social media, play softball, swim, and more. 2,740 days. That’s it. 9.5% of our life for the rest. That’s it.

Now, I can see where that information could be depressing, but for me it’s a wakeup call. A call to move, act, live into who I was created to be. What am I waiting for? Our time on earth is short. I want to live it to the fullest doing what I was created to do. Becoming the kind of person that draws people in, loves people well, and enriches the lives of others. I want to spend my time learning and growing so I can share my passions and experiences with other people. I want to challenge and be challenged. Some of those things can’t be changed. We have to eat and some level of bathroom activity is required and encouraged, but there is so much room in there to make a difference.

What if…

  • …we spent more time caring for others? How would our world be different?
  •   …we all did work that mattered, that we were passionate about? How would our world be different?
  • …we cut TV out of our day and spent that extra time learning and engaging in the lives of other people? How would our world be different?
  •  …we challenged the next generation to inquire about their world, love others, and not waste the first 15 years of their life? How would our world be different?

I want to use my time well. I want to love people and draw them in. I want to engage others in conversations that linger. I want to live a life of depth and adventure. I want to see the world and stand in awe of the Great Creator. I want to climb mountains and listen to the ocean and be thankful for what I have.

There is no time for judgment and hate. There is no time to waste doing a meaningless, passionless job. God didn’t just plop me down here with no purpose or talents or passions. There is no time to waste away those talents and passions on things that don’t matter or don’t enrich the lives of others.

How will you use the time you have left? How will you live different than the average?