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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.
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?
Image: (1) Heart & Mind via The New Yorker