You sit around watching all this stuff happen on TV… and the TV sits and watches us do nothing!
How Many Hours of Television do You Watch Per Day?
Is television a bit of an addiction in your life? Do you feel drawn to your television set like a bee to a flower?
Many of us habitually watch television without giving this habit a second thought. In fact, the average person in America spends about 5 hours of their day watching television. That’s equal to about a quarter of their day.
Most of us of course sleep for about 7 hours per night. Our waking time is therefore cut to about 17 hours. If 5 of those hours are spent watching television, then that’s almost 30 percent of the waking day that the average person indulges in television.
Let’s do some additional calculations here to get a little more perspective.
5 hours over a week totals 35 hours. The average full-time job is about 40 hours per week. Therefore, watching television essentially becomes almost another full-time job for most people.
Let’s dig into this even further…
Over the course of a year, those 35 hours turn into 1,820 hours of time spent in front of the television set. That totals almost 76 days of television that people watch per year. Given that we sleep for about 106 days per year, that essentially just leaves us about 183 days in a calendar year to focus on other stuff.
But what about all those chores you have to do? What about the time you spend eating food, in the bathroom, in the shower, etc?
At the very least 3 to 4 hours per day are devoted to these activities (if you’re lucky or very efficient). That totals over 1,200 hours per year, or 53 days. Now let’s take those 53 days along with the 183 days spent watching television and sleeping, and what you have left is about 130 days in a calendar year to live your life.
This certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Things like sleeping, taking care of life’s chores and other necessities are of course an essential part of life. These are hours of your day that will continue to consume your time. And there’s very little you can do about it. However, when it comes to your television addiction, well that’s time you can actually get back — if you so choose.
Think about this for a second. When you watch television you are watching other people work. You are essentially watching other people get paid to entertain you, while you sit and relax. They’re making money, while you’re secretly wishing you had more money in your bank account.
Instead of watching television, you could be earning money, or living your own life, instead of getting lost in a world that isn’t your own. Just think about all the stuff you could do, all the things you could experience, and all the things you could learn if you chose not to spend 76 days per year watching television.
Over the course of 1,820 hours per year, you could literally transform your life!
Why You Should Stop Watching Television
Okay, so television is a little bit of an addiction. But you enjoy your TV shows. You like your movies, and you just can’t miss the news and current events.
I’m not going to make the argument that television is evil and that it’s absolutely ruining your life. You yourself must make that judgment. There are obviously many fantastic educational, inspiring and informative programs on television. These programs can help us learn, grow and develop ourselves in a multitude of ways. They are of value and can bring tremendous value to your life. I’m not talking about these types of programs.
What I’m talking about are the shows that have little to no value. They are only designed to entertain a bored brain. In fact, most of the time we are so habitually hardwired to watch television at certain times throughout the day, that we no longer watch for entertainment purposes. We rather watch because we are bored and can’t think of anything better to do.
This habitual behavior might seem harmless on the surface, however, below the surface it is costing you a great deal. In fact, it is slowly and subtly stealing your life away.
Given all this, here are key arguments why you should stop watching television:
It Encourages Procrastination
Television is a major cause of procrastination that pulls you away from the stuff that truly matters. It pulls you away from focusing on the things that can help you build a better life. In fact, in many ways television is nothing more but an excuse that draws you away from focusing on more important things.
It’s an Unproductive Use of Your Time
Television is simply an unproductive use of time. It’s designed for the lazy mind that doesn’t want to put thought into what it’s doing.
It’s Incredibly Addictive
Television is incredibly addictive. In fact, it’s very much like alcohol and tobacco addiction. It slowly creeps up on you over time. You try to convince yourself that it’s not really an addiction, but the truth is of course very different.
It Weakens Your Willpower
Television weakens your self-control and self-discipline. Willpower is, of course, the key to high levels of achievement. Without willpower, you get drawn into succumbing to life’s little pleasures — otherwise known as the Instant Gratification Trap. And it’s these little pleasures that eventually sabotage your goals and dreams.
Has a Negative Influence on Your Life
Television has a harmful effect on your beliefs, levels of satisfaction, and outlook on life. It pulls you away from real-world problems that require solutions. And it’s of course, these solutions that can help you live life in more optimal ways.
What you believe is a direct result of what you allow yourself to focus on. Therefore your beliefs are heavily influenced by the television shows you watch. This of course, isn’t a bad thing, as long as these beliefs do not negatively impact other aspects of your life.
It Significantly Suppresses the Imagination
Television significantly suppresses the imagination. In fact, television is a great example of how others have used their imagination to entertain you. But the key to long-term happiness and fulfillment, of course, rests within your own imagination. You can actually use it to improve every aspect of your life. However wielding your imagination takes practice, and unfortunately, television doesn’t provide that.
It Burdens You with a Bombardment of Advertising Messages
Television is filled with advertising messages. And advertising influences your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and spending habits. In fact, it could very well be the most influential force in your life. And if you’re not happy with how your life is at the moment, then you can probably blame the television set for it.
It Can Ruin Your Health and Vitality
Watching television for 5 hours per day leads to a sedentary lifestyle. This affects your posture, health, and energy levels. You of course, might watch television standing up, but most people unfortunately don’t. The lack of movement for 5 hours per day is literally killing them.
It Creates Unrealistic Expectations
As you watch your favorite television shows you get an insight into life from a multitude of perspectives. However, this portrayal of life is often very unrealistic and doesn’t reflect how life is in the real-world.
This of course, creates a set of unrealistic expectations that you have for your own life. These unrealistic expectations soon turn to failed expectations, and your level of life satisfaction subsequently plummets.
The Value Added Benefits of Watching Less Television
What if you significantly reduced the amount of time you spent in front of the television set starting today? What would be the benefits? What value could that bring to your life?
More Free Time on Your Hands
For starters, you suddenly have more time to spend on other aspects of your life. You essentially have more free time on your hands that you can use to spend with your loved ones, to pursue your goals, or partake in an active hobby.
Reduced Mental Clutter
Another benefit comes in the form of reduced mental clutter. No longer are you spending your valuable time thinking about what will happen on the next episode of your favorite soap opera or drama. You are instead using that thinking time to reflect on your life, relationships, friendships and circumstances. Moreover, you are using that time to solve your own personal problems, rather than worrying about the problems of fictional characters on television.
Improved Quality of Sleep
Some people feel that watching television helps them fall asleep. However, research suggestions that watching television directly before going to bed is actually counterproductive.
Promotes Creative Thinking
The less time you spend watching television the more time you have to ponder and reflect on your own life. These periods of contemplation naturally helps stimulate your imagination, which in turn promotes creative thinking.
Reduces Your Expenses
When you curb your television addiction you immediately start saving money. You do this by lowering your electricity costs, by cutting your cable bill, and by avoiding the spending temptations that television advertisers throw your way.
How to Curb Your Television Addiction
Okay, so hopefully by now, you have enough emotional leverage to start changing your television viewing habits. Within this section let’s discuss a simple three-step process you can use to begin to curb your television addiction.
Be warned though that these steps are very simple. They are common sense principles. All you need to do is put them into practice.
Step 1: Take a Personal Inventory
Your first step to curbing your television viewing habits is to take a personal inventory. This essentially involves keeping track of what you’re watching. Moreover, it requires tracking how long you watch each television program.
Over the course of the first week, you will want to just keep track of these variables. Don’t change your television viewing habits. Rather just maintain your regular television viewing routine and list down what you’re watching and how long you’re watching it for.
At the end of the week calculate how many hours you spent watching television. You can even break this down even further by listing the television shows, or the types of shows you watched.
Now, looking back at this list, reflect on the opportunity cost. Ask yourself:
What am I missing out on by watching all this television?
What else could I potentially do with my time that could help me live a better life?
Asking these questions is helpful because it focuses you on alternative paths. It helps you see that other options are available that are potentially more worth your time and attention.
Step 2: Make a Commitment to be More Selective
Your next step is to commit to being more selective with the television shows you watch.
Curbing your television addiction doesn’t mean giving up television altogether. Some television programming can be of tremendous value. They can help you learn, grow and develop yourself in numerous ways.
It’s time now to decide what television programming is actually worth your time. Likewise, you need to figure out what television programs provide little to no value for your growth and development.
In order to figure these things out, ask yourself the following questions:
What goals and aspirations do I have for my life?
How would I like to grow as a person in the coming years?
What information and knowledge is it important for me to acquire to help advance my career, relationships and life?
What television programs are aligned with this vision I have for my life?
What television programs are not aligned with these goals and objectives?
Having answered these questions, your next task is to create a list of television programs that have the most educational and inspirational value. Then commit yourself to primarily watching only these types of programs.
Step 3: Re-Prioritize Your Time
The final step of this process requires re-prioritizing your time.
If you’ve chosen to give up watching certain television programs, then you will now have more free time on your hands to focus on other things. Here you must get very clear about what those things will be. Ask yourself:
How will I now spend the extra free time I have on my hands?
What new skills could I learn and develop that could help improve my life?
How could I potentially advance my career forward?
What could I do to improve my relationships?
How could I achieve goals that I have been putting off for years?
What valuable knowledge could I gain that would be helpful?
With whom could I spend more time with? How could that be of value?
How could I start living a more active lifestyle?
How could all this have a positive impact on my life in the long-term?
The choices you make here could very well transform your life. It’s therefore, important that you don’t rush through these questions, but rather take your time with answering them.
In the end, it all boils down to spending time on highest value and biggest impact activities that can help you live a better life. This is of course about long-term benefits. In the short-run, you might see little value in what you’re doing. However, the long-term payoffs are what you’re really after.
Avoiding the Temptation of Watching Television
If you’ve gone through the above three steps, then you’re already making some good progress. However, changing old habits isn’t going to be easy. There will be many times when you will succumb to the path of least resistance. In other words, you will do what is most convenient for you in the short-term rather than what is best for you in the long-run.
No matter how committed you are, there will be moments throughout the week when the temptation to watch mindless television will cross your mind. But before you succumb to this temptation, take a moment to ask yourself the following set of questions:
Does watching television add any real value to my life?
Will my life get any better if I choose to watch this television program?
Why exactly am I tempted to watch this television program?
What specifically do I feel I will gain from this?
What are my real motives for wanting to watch this?
Is watching this television show a form of escape? What am I trying to escape from?
What consequences could result from watching this television program?
What will I miss out on learning or doing if I decide to watch this television show?
What could I focus on right now that would make an actual difference to my life?
How could I potentially use my time more purposefully?
Where would investing my time be of most value in the long-run?
If however you simply couldn’t resist the temptation, and you subsequently succumbed to your guilty pleasure, then ask yourself the following questions while watching your television program:
What has this show got me thinking about myself, about life, and about other people?
How does this show influence how I see myself and how I view the world?
Does it have a positive impact on my life? Or is the impact mostly negative?
What emotions has this show stirred up within me? Are these emotions helpful or hurtful?
What impact does this television program have on my life as a whole?
These questions are designed to encourage you to think critically about what you’re watching. Their purpose is to make you feel a little uncomfortable, uneasy and possibly somewhat guilty about succumbing to your addiction. But what’s done is done, and there’s no turning back.
Having successfully resisted the urge to remove yourself from your television set, you now have time to reflect on what just happened. Ask yourself:
Having watched this television show, do I now feel better about myself? Am I in a better place?
Has this television show helped improve my life in some way?
Has this television show challenged me in some way?
Has this television show inspired me to take positive action to improve my life?
What real value have I actually gained from spending time watching this television program?
Consistently asking yourself these questions every time you succumb to your television addiction, helps you gain proper perspective. It draws to mind other possibilities and brings to question the value of your choices and decisions.
Each time you ask yourself these questions you throw a little more doubt on your actions. This progressively begins to shift your belief systems, until eventually, you develop the self-control and willpower you need to resist these kinds of temptations.
Developing new habits isn’t easy. Practice and consistency are the key.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Overcoming Television Addiction
Here within this final section, let’s discuss some general suggestions that can help you work through your television addiction more readily and quickly.
Here’s What to Do!
The ultimate key to curbing your television addiction essentially comes down to turning it into a very distasteful experience. And this, of course, comes down to consistently asking yourself the questions outlined within the previous section. These questions will encourage you to question the choices and decisions you make when it comes to your television viewing habits.
Another idea for curbing your television viewing habits is to make the television difficult to access. For instance, take your television set out of your bedroom and put it into another room that’s rarely used. Now remove all comfortable couches and sofa chairs, and all of a sudden watching television will no longer be quite as pleasurable of an experience.
However, if you’re disciplined enough, then you probably don’t need to go to such extremes. Instead, simply limit your television viewing to certain times throughout the day. You can even schedule it within your calendar and only allow yourself to watch television during that time. And at all other times, focus on your passions, on improving yourself, on reading, and on spending time with family and friends.
You can, however, use television as a reward mechanism. You could, for instance, commit yourself to getting certain tasks or goals completed. Then as a reward, you can allow yourself to watch an engrossing and entertaining television show. At least this way television won’t get in the way of more important things that can help move your life forward.
If however you simply can’t resist watching a favorite television show for entertainment value, then commit yourself to doing so only as a multi-tasking activity. For instance, only watch while you’re exercising or cleaning. At least this way you will get more joy from doing household chores.
Now of course, not all television is harmful to your growth and development. There are television programs that will help keep you informed, educated and inspired. Make time to watch these television shows as they will add value to your life.
Here’s What Not to Do!
A great many people use television as an escape mechanism from their daily problems. Most television programs are created for one purpose only, and that is to entertain. However, entertainment value rarely if ever translates into life value. Yes, it will make you feel better about yourself in the short-run, but in the long-run, it has no positive impact on your life.
Regrettably, most people only have a short-term view of their life. They don’t look long-term and this is why they succumb to mindless television viewing habits that provide next to no value. They use television as a distraction from their problems and difficult emotions. Television essentially helps them fill an empty void in their life.
If you watch television for this very reason, then the truth is, it’s not actually helping. It’s like taking a painkiller for a headache. The headache is still there, you just can’t feel it. Likewise, your problems are still there. All you’ve managed to do is to successfully distract yourself from them.
People use television to fight boredom, to indulge in procrastination, and to neglect responsibility for their life and circumstances. Yes, it is, in essence, a perfect escape mechanism. But in reality, it’s nothing more but an illusion. All the things you are avoiding are still there. Nothing has changed. All that’s different is where you’re focusing your thoughts and attention. Once the television program you’re watching concludes, you are back again in your own world and reality.
The biggest takeaway from all this is not to get caught up using television as an escape mechanism. Focus instead on proactively making changes to improve your life, to solve problems and mend relationships. Television won’t help you. You can only help yourself. The power rests fully in your hands.
What Path Will You Choose?
It’s time now to make a choice. You can either choose to succumb to your television addiction, or you can choose to actively work on improving your life. You can either choose to live in someone else’s television fantasy world, or you can choose to proactively use your own imagination to solve your own problems.
These choices seem easy on the surface. In fact, it makes common sense that you would choose your own life over a television program. However, often we don’t think rationally about these kind things, and that is essentially what lets us down in the long-run. But in the end, the choice is all yours. Will you choose to flip on that television switch today? Or will you choose to start making gradual improvements to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Reasons Why TV’s Top Shows are so Addictive @ Time
- 17 Ways to Stop Watching Television @ Reader’s Digest
- 21 Reasons Your Addiction to Good Television is Reaching Very Dangerous Levels @ Thought Catalog
- Being Addicted to the Television is No Mere Metaphor @ Scientific America
- Binge Watching Television May Make Us Depressed, According to New Study @ Bustle
- How to Detox Your Kids from Screen Addiction @ Huffington Post
- How Viewers Grow Addicted to Television @ The New York Times
- One More Reason to Unplug Your Television @ Psychology Today
- Reality Television: Behind the Obsession @ Psychology Today
- The Netflix Addiction: Why Our Brains Keep Telling Us to Press Play @ Huffington Post
- When You Really Can’t Miss Your Favorite Show @ Very Well
- Why Binge Watching Television is so Addictive @ Bustle