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HOW TO STOP WATCHING SO MUCH TELEVISION AND START LIVING
(Tuesday, October 14th, 2014)

HOW TO STOP WATCHING SO MUCH TELEVISION AND START LIVING

Back in 1997 I cancelled my subscription to cable TV. I was a television addict. I turned it on the minute I woke up, and it played in the background all morning while I got ready for work.  When I got home in the afternoon I immediately switched it on. It played in the background while I fixed dinner, we watched it from the table during dinner, and then moved to the couch to watch more after dinner.  It didn’t get turned off until it was time for bed.

It finally occurred to me how many mindless hours I was spending in front of the TV and I wanted to change my life. I wanted to spend more time living my life and less time “watching other people live a fake life” on TV. I decided to choose one night per week where I would watch television. This was before DVR was so popular and products like Netflix were available. This was the era of “Must See TV”, and at the time NBC aired Friends and Seinfeld on Thursday night, so that was the night I chose to watch. On the other nights I committed to being selective about what I watched. I made a commitment to only turn the television on if there was something specific I wanted to watch.

That first year I astounded myself by reading 30 books. Heck, I hadn’t read a book in over 10 years. I started a mastermind group, held monthly card nights with my girlfriends, went biking, joined volunteer organizations and served on a few local boards. I was amazed to discover an entire world lived outside my television screen.

Years later, I still only pay for minimal cable stations. I don’t have any movie channels, and I don’t miss it. I do have Netflix, I enjoy movies and the occasional series. I just started watching Breaking Bad because of all the acclaim it received. I am way behind the masses, but I don’t care. Just don’t tell me how it ends. People always ask me how I get my news, and tell them from other people, Facebook or the Internet. Information is everywhere. I will admit that I am usually the last to know of the latest tragedy, but I’m fine with that too. So many people feel inadequate if they don’t know all the latest news. I let that go a long time ago. We are a world on information overload. I am still learning and growing, but don’t feel the need to compete with the latest news junkie.

Yes, sometimes I just need to be entertained, recharge and kickback, but I am always selective. If I am going to watch something to unwind, I choose shows that make me laugh or stimulate me in a good way. You will never catch me watching a reality show where back-stabbing, self-absorption or stupidity is the plot. I believe that stuff is contagious, and I don’t want to catch any of what they are promoting. Everything you let in your life influences you and everything counts!

My advice is not to eliminate television from your life, but to be selective. Television is a powerful media outlet when you are its master and not its slave. The question I ask myself when I want to watch TV is: “Is this program adding to my life?” Most of the time it isn’t and I choose something else to do. I now read regularly, journal, play cards, and go to bed at a decent hour. When I get a good nights sleep, I awake full of energy and focused to start my day, and I have kept up my habit of reading 20-30 books a year for the past 17 years and it has changed my life. Don’t change because I said so. Try it on and you be the judge.

Here are my tips all summed up:

    1.    SELECT HOW MANY HOURS YOU WANT TO DEVOTE TO TELEVISION PER WEEK. Make your goal attainable and something that excites you.

    2.    PLAN WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO WATCH AHEAD OF TIME. Use your DVR, Apple TV, Netflix or the like.

    3.    TRY SOME NEW HOBBIES OUT. Bake cookies, take a class, call your mom or go for a bike ride.  I always tell myself if I am bored, it is my own fault. There are a million things you can do.

    4.    WHEN YOU TURN ON THE TELEVISION, ASK THE QUESTION: “Is this program adding to my life?” How you spend your time determines what you value.

    5.    COMMIT TO 60 DAYS. It takes 21 days to form a habit, but television is an addiction.  Give yourself a little more time to break the habit and be kind to yourself.

    6.    LET YOURSELF FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.  It may be difficult and you may feel anxious the first week or so not having the background noise of the television on all the time. Let yourself feel uncomfortable. Sit with it, and it will pass. You will stretch your comfort zone.

“Millions long for a life of immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon”.  – Susan Ertz

You can apply to same tips to your Internet usage and how much time you spend on social media sites. The bottom line is to be in charge of your time and realize when you’ve fallen into the void of unconscious television watching or internet surfing. Life is out there just waiting for you to live it. My mission is to point you towards the light.

Love & Happiness,

Please feel free to comment or write me a michele@key2unlock.com