Why Not . . . Watch Less Television?
Wednesday February 9, 2011

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As a child growing up our family had five television channels with the help of an antenna, and if by chance the weather was disagreeable, we didn’t have any. One of my childhood friends placed their only television in their den which was rather small but also had a comfortable leather sofa and created an environment I am currently trying to emulate in my own office, cozy, but with a purpose.  Another friend of mine and her husband have eliminated television all together. While I do enjoy watching a bit of television now and then (episodes of Barefoot Contessa, CBS Sunday Morning, Frasier & and well-written comedies and dramas), I’ve come to the decision that while I don’t want to eliminate television in my life altogether, I do want to reduce the number of televisions in my house.

Well, without further ado, this Saturday, it will be done, and I have to admit, I’m actually looking forward to it.  Call me crazy, but when the customer service employee asked why I wanted to make this change, I said, “To create a better life!” No response from her end (I’m sure she thought I had tipped over my rocker), but I want to push myself, to challenge myself, to cultivate stronger relationships and create an atmosphere that is dictated by what I want the focus of my life to be, not some television programmer trying to gain more ad revenue.

I have already stopped using the television in the living room just to get a feel for the change it will bring to my daily routines, and here are a few things I know will immediately improve:

More Free Time

While there are many times the television is on simply in the background while I am doing something, it always amazes me how quickly time passes when I sit down in front of it. Well, no more. At first it may be difficult to figure out what to do with your free time, but once you become adjusted and comfortable, you’ll soon realize you’ll have time to complete that to-do list without distraction, give yourself a pedicure, spend more time writing, putz around in the garden, start a puzzle, send a thank you note or go out for a walk. And who doesn’t want more free time?  I know that is an instant benefit of limiting or eliminating television.

Less Snacking

Those unnecessary pounds that you’ve been wanting to shed, that mindless eating that takes place as you become entranced by whatever it is that is on the boobtube at the moment, consider it gone.  When I begin to come to terms with the extra calories I might consume in a day, I realized that they are all consumed when I’m watching television – not while I’m walking, not while I’m reading or chatting on the telephone. So by disabling this enabler, a more satisfied self-image develops.

Build Quality Relationships

When I began to first consider the idea of reducing the number of televisions in my home, I began to reflect on those times when I had friends and family over, and I began to realize that few, if any, occasion was with the intention of watching television together.  Whether it was a dinner party, cocktail gathering or a holiday occasion, we were coming together to be and enjoy one another’s company. The television was ignored, so why then was I so worried about removing it from my living room? Instead of turning the television on to enjoy a show with your significant other or roommate, why not pull out a board game like Scrabble, or learn how to play chess?  Or try my favorite board game – backgammon.  What ever you choose to do, either engage each other’s minds or become more comfortable with silence which truly is a good sign of a healthy relationship. (A great website of ideas and statistics regarding television use can be found at this wonderful website: Heart & Mind: Creating Simple Harmony In Life)

More Time To Read

One of the most attractive benefits of eliminating or reducing your television use is the ability to read without distraction or temptation. If you are like me, you have a list of books you are dying to get through – possibly a few classics that you never read but have always meant to, or biographies of people who captivate your attention.  Also, when a book, magazine or newspaper is picked up to enjoy, you are able to fully commit yourself to the article you have chosen to read without looking up every couple of minutes.  Knowledge is gained, your mind is challenged, and you are most certainly better off than if you would have clicked on a mindless reality show with 10-20 minutes of advertisements tempting your pocketbook.

Become More Accomplished

One of my favorite science fiction books (and I must confess, science fiction isn’t what I typically gravitate towards) and classic books in general is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Within it’s plot line he reveals a world without books and its effects on society. In 2001 he was quoted as saying about this particular book,  “I wasn’t worried about freedom. I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV.”

His statement certainly gave me pause when I first came across it.  There is without question, a true fear conveyed especially with the television becoming so prevalent in modern culture. With that in mind, use the time you aren’t spending in front of the television to fine tune your skills or learn new ones. Life must not be wasted. As we all know, it is a precious gem that has the potential to shine with all its luster if we put in the elbow grease. But in order to put in the effort and focus, we need to turn the television off a bit more.

So, are you with me?

25 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Watch Less Television?

  1. I’ve been trying to watch less TV myself. But it’s been more about exercising and cutting down on my power bills than anything else. But this is such a good perspective; only thing is i’m home alone so TV tends to be my own company

    xoxo Hermine

  2. Good for you! Haven’t watched or owned a television for over 15 years – if there is a series really worth watching I wait till I can watch it online – I prefer to use my time to accomplish things, and to prepare and cook a healthy meal to share with my boyfriend in the evenings which is the only quality time we get to spend together. Why waste it infront of the box?

  3. I love the idea of watching less TV, I’ve been contemplating the idea myself for some time now. Only problem is that I don’t know where to put it other than the living room, our house is so small and I’d still like to watch a movie or a documentary from time to time.

  4. I personally only watch television on Wednesdays and Thursdays. What I do need to cut back on is internet usage. Maybe I can modify this challenge in order to cut back on time spent in front of the computer. Have a great day!

  5. Wow! great challenge. When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV between Monday-Friday (as my mum had enrolled us in so many after school activities). Now I continue that habit; I only watch TV at the weekend (but only in the evenings). It can be difficult as it is the first thing hubby puts on when we get up, or when we enter the house, but I’ve managed to disconnect completely from what is on. If he is watching something he thinks I would like, he records it for me, and I watch it at the weekend; it works perfectly!

  6. Shannon, Your daily messages are phenominal! But what makes them even MORE phenominal are the perfect pictures you choose to accentuate each one of your points! Every time I read your blog my mouth drops open at your selection of pictures to enhance your message. More Free Time; darling photo captures a girl who looks like she couldn’t be enjoying her free time any more! Less Snacking…perfect shot of a girl who defintely doesn’t snack at all 🙂 Too perfect Shannon/ too darn cute! I know I am not the only one who is blown away by the effort you put in to every entry…every day! Pat yourself on the back for me 🙂 Thank you for such a beautiful blog!

  7. Terrific post! Thank you! While I haven’t gotten rid of my TV completely, I did get rid of my cable and only have an antenna now. No more excessive cable bill. The deal breaker of course was could I still access KCET so I can watch BBC news and Doc Martin. Yes, and Yes! 🙂

    Another tip for readers who live in an apartment and have their circuit breaker inside their apt. is to turn on the necessary circuits only when you need them such as hot water, lights, dishwasher, disposal, stove, and oven when needed. It cut my bill by 75%.

  8. Shannon, sometimes I swear you’re reading my mind! I just drafted a post on this very topic the other day.

    My hubby and I have only ever had one tv in our house-in the den and for the first 3 months when I moved into his house here we didn’t even have cable-just rented movies. It’s not a large flat screen mounted on the wall, it’s a modest 25″ tucked into a cabinet (I don’t consider my TV to be a home decor accessory).

    I’ve done TV fasts as I call them in the past to focus on other things in a greater way. TV is the ultimate distraction for many and while I’ve never been a big watcher because I love to read, craft, etc., with my hubby away, I’ve found myself watching TV in the evenings as a way to create background noise when I become aware of how quiet it is in our home without him. I try to only watch the interesting shows I’ve programmed which usually consist of HGTV, I love Frasier too!, and some of Oprah’s inspiring new shows on Own as well as her show.

    There is so much mindless TV on these days and it is further reason for me to move away from it altogether but I do get great inspiration and even some blog post ideas from particular shows.

    Life is much more enjoyable when we feel accomplished because we are living it instead of watching other people live theirs.

  9. I don’t know what I would do if I had tv??? I already don’t have ‘enough’ time without it! I own one small television and a great collection of DVD’s… if I am in the mood to “tune out” at least I know it will not exceed 1 1/2 to 2 hours of my time (perspectively). I applaud your attempts at freeing yourself of the tube.

  10. I do not watch that much TV myself. Living in NYC you find many social activities that fill your free time joyously. I am really focused on FUN for my free time. I am currently taking a Broadway tap class with a gal pal. Because I am all about building quality relationships. Great post Shannon. Hope you are well.
    xo Mish

  11. I never watch TV except when I rent a movie. I do watch America’s Funniest Home Videos on Saturday night with my kids and NOTHING ELSE. That is more like therapy than TV-watching because I laugh so hard my stomach hurts and I forget all my cares completely for an hour.
    Sometimes I actually try watching TV because I keep hearing it is relaxing but I am so offended by the stupidity of most of the content I just turn it off. I feel as though my IQ is being lowered just from being exposed to it. I remember seeing Barefoot Contessa a few years ago and I like it alot. Her ethos is very much like yours in terms of luxury and pleasure so I can see why you like it.

  12. I am so with you…I am not a big TV person except today when I am sick its been on for more than usual and I realize I am actually missing nothign by not watching, there is so much junk on there. I used to be a news junkie until it just got too depressing to watch all the time.
    So now I read more than I ever have, and of course now I blog too:)
    I think you are going to love not like the extra time this will afford you. Good choice.

  13. Bravo! My family has been TV-less for eleven years. My daughter is nine and she’s never known life with a television. We do have a computer that plays DVDs and a Netflix account. I find that this forces us to be more intentional. I love it.

    Oh, another benefit that we weren’t expecting is that my daughter doesn’t have “Wantitis”. She never sees the adds and consequently is happy with what she had. YAY!

  14. Yes! I gave up my TV for about a year and a half. I just left it in storage. There were times when I felt left out of conversations but for the most part, I really enjoyed my time reading and just being fully present to each experience.

  15. agree! i move out of the parental home next month and soon won’t even have a TV set. watching films will be an event, either at the cinema or someone else’s house. i look forward to listening, seeing, writing, feeling…

  16. I love that so many people here live without tv’s. I truly agree that we could all use to lose the box and gain the things you mentioned. Great post Shannon, thank you for sharing.

  17. Great post! It’s always good to have a reminder. My husband and I record everything we want to watch and then view it at our leisure, minus ads. He likes tv more than I and often complains I’m not pulling my weight regards viewing, and how I’m going to have to ‘commit more time to the tv’. He’s so funny. I say ok and then carry on reading my book.

  18. The only way I allow myself to watch TV (with the rare exception of a wonderful movie) is to turn the only small TV in my house to face my exercise equipment. I pedal two miles each morning while I watch the news, then another two miles in the evening on my stationary bike that way, and lifted many dumbells for my arms!

  19. Definitely – I was not sad at all to see the TV in the our bedroom gone. I grew up with only 1 television with 3 channels and it seemed crazy having as many TVs in my house as there currently are people. Furthermore, TVs in bedrooms are frowned upon by marriage counsellors everywhere and by those who promote good sleep hygiene. It’s much cozier curling up next to my husband to do the crossword at the end of the day 🙂

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