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 pollen?
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 his/her day watching TV. 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 our waking day devoted to television.
Let’s now do a few more additional calculations to get a little more perspective.
5 hours over a week total 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 mostly just leaves us approximately 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?
At the very least 3 to 4 hours per day are devoted to these activities (if you’re lucky or very efficient). That totals to over 1,200 hours per year or 53 days.
Now, let’s take those 53 days and add them to the 183 days spent watching television and sleeping. What we now have left is about 130 days in a calendar year to live life.
Let’s say that the average person lives to about 80 years. However, let’s skip over the school years and also ignore the retirement years. Given this, the average adult has nearly 47 years or 6,110 hours to build their life.
Wow, that 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 back and relax. They’re making money, while you secretly wish 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 utterly ruining your life. You must make that judgment yourself.
There are obviously many inspiring, educational, 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, therefore, 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.
Most of the time we are so habitually hardwired to watch television at certain times, that we no longer watch for entertainment purposes. We instead watch because we are bored. We just can’t think of anything better to do.
This habitual behavior might seem harmless on the surface, however, below the surface it’s slowly and subtly stealing your life away.
Given all this, here are several reasons why you should stop watching television:
- Television encourages procrastination.
- Television is an unproductive use of your time.
- Television is incredibly addictive.
- Television weakens your willpower.
- Television has a negative influence on your life.
- Television significantly suppresses the imagination.
- Television burdens you with a bombardment of advertising messages.
- Television can ruin your health and vitality.
- Television creates unrealistic expectations.
Let’s get this discussion started by saying that television is a primary cause of procrastination that pulls you away from the stuff that truly matters.
Television pulls your focus away from all the things that can help you build a better life. In fact, in many ways, TV is nothing more but an excuse that draws you away from high priority high-value activities.
Television is merely an unproductive use of your time. It’s designed for the lazy mind that doesn’t want to put any thought into what it’s doing. And the worst part is that it’s just so incredibly addictive.
Television is 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.
Willpower is, of course, the key to high levels of productivity and achievement. Without willpower, you succumb to life’s little pleasures — otherwise known as the Instant Gratification Trap. And it’s these small pleasures that eventually sabotage your goals and dreams.
If that wasn’t bad enough, television actually has a harmful effect on your beliefs, your level of fulfillment, 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.
One aspect of your life that does, unfortunately, get affected is your imagination. Television suppresses your imagination. In fact, television is an excellent 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 your imagination to improve every aspect of your life. However, wielding your imagination takes practice, and unfortunately, television doesn’t provide that opportunity. Television, does, however, provide an ample amount of opportunity to watch a lot of ads.
Television is filled with an abundance of 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 that on television.
Something else you can blame on television is your poor health.
Watching television for 5 hours per day leads to a very 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.
Finally, as you watch your favorite television shows, you get insight into life from a multitude of angles and perspectives. However, this depiction of life is often very unrealistic and doesn’t reflect real-world values and circumstances.
This creates a set of unrealistic expectations. These unrealistic expectations quickly 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? What value could that bring to your life?
Could you end up having more free time on your hands? Could you potentially reduce mental clutter? Could your quality of sleep improve? Maybe, it could even stimulate your imagination. And just, possibly, it could even reduce your expenses.
The moment you decide to watch less television, you will suddenly have more free time on your hands. You will have more time to spend with your loved ones, to pursue your goals or to partake in an active hobby.
Another benefit comes in the form of reduced mental clutter. No longer are you spending your valuable time thinking about what will happen in the next episode of your favorite TV show. 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.
Some people feel that watching television helps them fall asleep. However, research suggestions that watching television directly before going to bed is actually counterproductive. Therefore, just, maybe, if you reduced the amount of television you watched, you could subsequently improve the quality of your sleep.
Watching less television also gives you time to ponder and reflect on your own life. These periods of contemplation naturally help stimulate your imagination, which in turn fosters creative thinking.
Finally, 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. In this section, let’s discuss a simple three-step process you can use to begin curbing your television addiction.
Be warned though that these steps are very straightforward. They’re built upon familiar 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 just want to keep track of these variables. Don’t change your viewing habits. Instead, 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 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 they focus your brain on alternate paths. They help you see that other options are available that are potentially quite viable.
Step 2: Make a Commitment to Being 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 programs can be of tremendous value. They can help you learn, grow, and develop yourself in diverse ways.
Given this, decide what television programming is actually worth your time. Furthermore, you need to figure out what television programs provide little to no value for your continued growth and development.
To figure all 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 shows.
Step 3: Re-Prioritize Your Time
The final step of this process demands that you re-prioritizing your time.
Having chosen to give up certain television programs, you 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 over the long-run?
The choices you make here could very well transform your life. It’s therefore, vital that you don’t rush through these questions, but instead take your time to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly.
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 playing the “long game.” 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 during 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 experience?
What are my real motives for wanting to watch this show?
Is watching this television show a form of escapism? 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 surrendered to your guilty pleasure, then ask yourself the following questions:
What has this show got me thinking about?
How does it change how I view my life and 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, of course, 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, of course, isn’t easy. Practice and consistency are paramount.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Overcoming Your Television Addiction
Here in 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 solution to curbing your television addiction comes down to making it a very distasteful experience. And this, of course, comes down to consistently asking yourself the questions outlined in the previous section. These questions will encourage you to question the choices and decisions you make.
Another idea for curbing your television viewing habits is to make watching television very difficult and inconvenient. For instance, take your television set out of your bedroom and put it into a small dark room. Promptly, remove all comfortable couches and sofa chairs. Now, all of a sudden, watching television will no longer be a very pleasurable experience.
If, however, you’re disciplined enough, then you probably don’t need to go to such extremes. Instead, simply limit your television viewing to certain times of the day. You can even schedule it on your calendar. Then, only allow yourself to watch television during those times. 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 the more important stuff.
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 that pulls them away from their daily problems.
Most television programs are created for one purpose only, and that is to entertain. However, entertainment value rarely translates into life value. Yes, these shows will make you feel better about yourself in the short-run, but in the long-run, they will have no positive impact on your life.
Regrettably, most people only have a short-term view of their life. They don’t foresee long-term consequences, which is why they succumb to mindless television viewing habits. 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 you must realize that 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.
Yes, television is on the surface 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 is over, you’re back again in your own body 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 to mend relationships.
Television won’t help you. You can only help yourself.
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 apparent on the surface. In fact, logically, I would assume you would choose your own life over a television program. However, often, we don’t think rationally about these sort of things. Which is essentially what lets us down in the long-run.
In the end, the choice is all yours. Will you choose today to flip on that television switch? Or will you decide 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