October 19, 2010

Change Your Life In One Easy Step

What if I told you that you could fundamentally and profoundly change your life with one relatively simple action? What if I told you that doing so would improve your marriage, create more time for you, your hobbies, interests and children? What if your health, mental function, and quality of sleep improved from this one action?
What if it was SO simple that you simply couldn't believe that it would affect such change in your life? What if it wasn't permanent, but rather something that you could test out without any losses? Could you let go and give something new a try?
Five years ago I fought (hard) to have the TVs removed from our house. I had no idea how much this was going to catapult us into a new existence, but I went up against two men (my husband and father) and a Noggin addicted two year old to pull it off. I took no prisoners and held my ground and each and every one of us is openly grateful that I did. My father went his own way when we went ours two and a half years ago and neither of u,s in the others absence, chose to return TV to our lives.

It wasn't the easiest thing at first. TV, however little you perceive yourself to be watching, is addictive and having effects on your life that you could not even imagine, and will have a hard time believing when you begin to recognize it's effects beginning to wear off.

I could write a huge and I mean HUGE post about what those exact effects are, but I'm kind of hoping that I don't need to. The thing is, that a life where the latest episode of Lost or American Idol (or anything else for that matter) simply don't matter is a life more fully lived.
There is actually a whole separate culture of people who do not watch TV, listen to news shows or rent movies and the things that they could tell you would knock your socks off.
Though I haven't had a TV in 5 years I have had a Netflix account for the past few months and it is that which has spurred me to finally write this post. Though I have many excuses and rationalizations, I had to finally admit that the mind numbing, time sucking activity had snuck back into my life disguised as something more acceptable and was chipping away at many things in my life that I value more and existed only because of the previous absence of TV.

Yesterday I deleted my account. Now I'm challenging you to give it a try.
If you can turn off your TV for a week we can consider it a successful step, but let's get crazy... let's take a chance at really changing our lives...
Move your TV out to the garage for 90 days. Call your cable or satellite company and tell them that you are going on vacation for 90 days and would like to suspend your account.
Try it and see that it changes your life. Have something more interesting to talk about than what you saw someone else do on TV.

More Insentive:

The Awful Truth About Television
Does Watching TV Make Us Happy?
Television: Opiate of the Masses
TV in Your Child's Room May Hinder Learning


Sarah said...

I actually feel the same way about facebook. I recently suspended my account, and it's been fantastic. I didn't realise how frequently I was checking it. And why? I don't feel that I was truly connecting with my friends. Since then I've written proper emails and made phone calls and cooked a lot more, and done more sewing. It's been liberating.

Tiffany said...

Love this post! I to have fought to get tv out of my home, but have not yet won.
We only have netflix, and that is as far as I could get my family to go.
I also feel the need to get rid of facebook, but want to still stay in touch with those "long lost friends" that I have found on there. So I sometimes ground myself from the computer to get me off my facebook and blogs.
I could definitely do better in that area.
I would be very interested to hear your experiences after you got rid of tv, and how it has changed your lives.

barefootrambling said...

While I lived abroad I didn't have a TV (that ended up being 9 months). It was amazing how much other STUFF I was able to accomplish. Now that I'm back stateside and mooching a basement from family, I find myself back on the old familiar couch numbing my mind. Any ideas I can use to fill time until I find work would be much appreciated!

Michelle said...

I've never much been into tv. I lost track of tv, celebs, etc when I was about 15 years old. I'm now 42.

Little House On Wheels said...

Ugh. I hate how it has crept back into our lives via the computer. We just signed back up for netflix probably a year ago, mainly for Riki but of course they have kids' stuff. I try to keep it to weekends only.

I'm soooo glad to be free of commercials though. It is amazing how much better you feel about your life when you aren't constantly being told what house, car, jewelry, and housewares to buy when you turn on the tv.

Olivia said...

This is a good idea but it's really not a one-size-fix-all. When my kids were young they were allowed one half hour of tv per day and that worked fine for us. However - there are shut-ins, people who live alone, older folks whose eyes are too poor to read, those of us who live in a country that basically has winter 8 months of the year and some of us who can watch TV discriminately without becoming zombies. Truly. It does not have to be addictive. Maybe it's because I am probably old enough to be your mother but I think life can be lived in moderation without having to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

Transit Antenna Home said...

The greatest losses in getting rid of our TV was the elimination or rather lessening of media/advertising in our home life. My son was/is such a sucker for Ads.

Lance Huffman said...

Basically, I would agree with both you and Olivia. About two years ago, we canceled cable. It was more of a financial decision than anything. Then, along the way, tv switched to digital and our old televisions don't work anymore. But we kept them for movies. I love movies, but only usually watch one every couple of weeks.

Sometimes I catch a Daily Show online or something.

But that's it. And I agree. My life is much richer without the television. And I used to be a typical 2-3 hour per day American. Now I'm so busy, I don't know how I fit it in before.

It's possible, though very difficult, to use in very slight moderation. It's probably best just to cut the ties by canceling cable.

Great post. I think eliminating a lot of clutter and un-necessities from our lives would greatly enrich them.

~S said...

When my older son was 2 1/2, I got rid of cable and haven't had it since. Most people wonder how I can "live without TV," to which I respond, "How do you live WITH it?!" The constant noise and the ADD-like quality of show/commercial/show/commercial... it makes my head hurt.

While I still have a TV in my house, it's use is mainly for date night -- where my boys and I snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. Other than, we use it to rotate music and/or pictures, like a giant digital picture frame.

jess said...

We've disconnected ours and stuck it in a backroom months ago, boxed up the dvds, we never had cable so that wasn't an issue. In it's place we've set up an activity table and alternates trains, lego, blocks, woody click, playmobile, most of the children's books on a bookcas, a small storage unit with paper and art supplies and an easel. The tv was mostly used so we could get things done, we find that if we sit down and play with C he will happily continue playing for another 15minutes or sometimes an hour or more, time we use to get things done.
Honestly, within the first weeks of unplugging a lot of great change happened for our son. (I work a reduced schedule during the summer so took the opportunity at the beginning of summer to shut it off.) Less aggravated, happier, sleeping better. After two weeks he quit asking to watch shows, now it's a huge treat when we bring home a movie and watch it on the computer. (I have no clue how to set the tv back up.)

KatieB said...

I am with you. I gave up TV in 1993, when I went to college. I didn't have one in my dorm room, and when I graduated, I didn't have one in my rental house, or the house I bought. I have had a TV briefly over the years, but never because I wanted one. I always managed to get rid of it when the SO was no longer in my life.
Life without TV is fantastic. I read as much as I want, I have hobbies I love, I participate in my community, and I spend time with my family. I've never been overweight, and I think a big reason is because I don't sit for HOURS and HOURS numbing my mind.
I think TV can be ok in very small doses, but it's too easy to let a one hr limit grow to two, then it's on all the time.
Turn off the plug-in drug, your life will never be the same.

earthboysblog said...

We haven't had TV for 8 years and living out in the middle of know where has made it difficult to even think of it.. not that we have so I don't even know what movies are showing out there. I think I've watched about 10 movies in 8 years! I was actually thinking that I would love to watch a movie the other day but I just can't find the time for it.... I limit my internet to only 2-3 hours in the evening. There is so much more to do in life,, it's wonderful - My biggest addiction are my horses, I just can't seem to stay away from them or stop thinking about them...and my children of course but they are always with me. Lovely post.

Fine Art by Jennifer said...


VisionWise said...

My husband and I haven't had tv since our first few months together, but even then we never bought cable. We would just turn it on sometimes and see what we got, mostly the news... but we'd just look at each other, like right.../ and turn it off. We have raised our daughter without television, she only watches a few shows at my mom's house... like Curious George, which is educational in some ways, I don't mind it... I can honestly say that I despise 99% of movies I've ever seen in a video shop. We watch documentaries, and sometimes movies on the internet, like zeitgeist when it came out. I can't understand how people have the tv on all day. I can't handle the energy or the distraction! I have much more fun doing art, talking, dancing, or sitting in silence. :)

xpaul34x said...

I dissagree about not having a TV to be honest. Often important information is broadcast on TV. But yes people spend way too long watching tele, playing on games, living a virtual life on facebook and twitter. I tend to use the bbc iplayer only to watch the odd fav program before be, mainly documentories. But having said all this - blogging is just as bad as wathcing tele all the time and having visited a number of blogs - people seem to take it way to serious. Dont throw away your TV, your PC, console, laptop but try to reduce your time with it and spend more time exploring the beauty thats in the real world.