I stopped watching Television approximately 8+ years ago. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but something that just happened naturally over the last few years as I began looking at the things I needed to do in order to make progress.
I suppose personal development has been a major influence, but what seems to be obvious to me is that it’s a major problem for all of us when it comes to breaking away from it and doing what makes you truly happy.
I’m seeing a huge disconnect with the people I tend to meet on a daily basis and fail to form meaningful discussions because I didn’t watch an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Coronation Street’.
I also see a bunch of people dedicate their whole lives to things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of what their lives are truly about. We fail to see it due to the effects television does over years of consumption and entertainment.
Since stopping it, I’ve realised why I became different to most people in terms of mindset and beliefs, which I honestly believe is a more healthy attitude.
Here are the things I’ve personally learned the minute I stopped watching television and what you will also see if you decide to stop:
1) You stop thinking like a consumer.
Television is simply an advertising tool to make people buy something. When you look at television in this way, you begin to understand why things are the way they are when watching it.
According to the PWC Payback Study, “TV has delivered the highest sales return of any medium; £4.5m per £1m spent. TV also creates emotion better than other media and was far more effective in driving the bottom line (sales, market share, profit and loyalty)”
They broadcast shows in order to stir your emotions in a certain direction and help entertain you long enough so that you’re shown advertisements to condition you to make a purchase.
In psychology, we tend to buy based on how we feel, and television is simply a vehicle to help guide our emotions in a specific direction in order to achieve it.
Is it any wonder why so many of us are so insecure?
Over time, this conditioning leaks over into your everyday life and becomes who you are.
2) You realise you don’t need things in life to be happy.
When you limit television in your life, you begin to look at things differently and are forced to do other things that don’t require sitting on the sofa.
You begin taking part in activities and doing things that provide you with joy and fulfilment.
You begin to see the main cause as to why we buy in the first place, which could otherwise be replaced with something that doesn’t require a monetary investment.
The world begins to open up in front of you as you start to see a wealth of opportunities to try new things and get on the path of self-improvement.
Perhaps there was a new hobby you always wanted to start but always made an excuse because of a TV show holding you back.
Or maybe you felt like you had no time due to lounging on the sofa after a hard day’s work.
3) You become more active and passionate about life.
Life suddenly feels a lot more fruitful and abundant the minute you turn off your television and get out into the world. The opportunity to live a fulfilling life suddenly becomes possible.
Opportunities that you otherwise could not have seen spending it on the sofa and watching TV shows.
Granted, some of you reading this might argue that you can do both. But I challenge you to spend 4 hours in front of the television and to then go out afterwards and do physical activity.
You would be too mentally engrossed and exhausted to have the energy to do it.
And this is especially true after a full day in the office. The last thing you would want to do is head back out when the prospect of staying indoors in front of the television is an easier option.
4) Your self-esteem increases.
Advertising is meant to make you feel like you need something in order to feel better about yourself. It’s the biggest driving force to make people buy.
Advertisements that depict imagery of Male/Female models wearing expensive suits or dresses, in perfect shape living in plush houses or driving nice cars.
No one wants to feel limited or insecure and is conditioned to feel that way in order to prevent this from happening. You must buy, be or do something so that you no longer feel that way.
It’s simply not true. The fact is, you are enough. You can decide to be anything you want from today and don’t require any resources besides your own free will to make things happen.
This becomes clear the moment you turn off your television
5) You begin to develop independent thoughts and beliefs.
Television is a very powerful tool. I never quite realised how powerful it really was until I stopped watching it.
It has the capability to condition people to believe in things that are simply not true. It is able to distort actual reality from fantasy and is able to do so without people realising it.
You become fearful of life and start looking at things based on what you’ve been conditioned by television. What if things aren’t what you’ve seen on television?
It reminds me of the famous quote Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker in the movie Star Wars – “Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.”
Your eyes are powerful enough to take in the things you’re conditioned to believe are true. If you see life in a negative way (Which television often depicts), you will see more of and attract negative things into your life.
Likewise, if you decide to only accept the positive things, your life will begin to be more positive.
6) You become more connected with the people around you.
The more you focus on television and digital media in general, the less connected you become with the outside world.
This epidemic has gotten worse in today’s modern culture with the use of television, digital smartphones and the internet where people seem to have a better relationship with others through social media and TV shows than they do with real face-to-face interactions.
Never before have I seen a bunch of people in a nightclub scanning through their smartphones on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, when actual live people are right in front of them, ready to be interacted with.
7) Your overall lifestyle improves.
When you stop consuming your life with entertainment, you’re left with a major question that you have to ask yourself – “What can I now do in my life to make it worth living?”
This is a great opportunity to reflect because you’re often left with an answer that provides you with a harsh truth of just how boring and unfulfilling your life actually is.
You’re given the chance to finally rediscover your life’s purpose and what it should be about.
Perhaps it’s hiking in the mountains, or going on bike rides with friends. Or maybe it’s rock climbing or backpacking across the globe.
Your life suddenly becomes more free-flowing and left with opportunities that you otherwise could not have seen due to watching television.
8) You become less materialistic
It’s no surprise that television has encouraged buying behaviour. With companies spending thousands on TV advertising, there’s a reason why this is the case.
It’s one of the most effective forms of communication due to the sheer number of viewers tuning in to watch their favourite television shows.
In a Nielson study, the average American watches an average of 5.1 hours of television a day or 153 hours per month (Q1 of 2009).
So removing television completely as a source of entertainment simply removes exposure, which lowers your need for wanting things that you simply do not need in the grand scheme of things.
You suddenly have no reason to shop unless it’s absolutely necessary and find you’re able to save a lot more money in the process.
So What Next…
Taking away the choice to watch television or remove it completely will no doubt free up a lot of time that you otherwise felt you didn’t have. This is a great place to be as it will allow you to finally think about what else to do.
You will feel compelled and inspired to begin looking at productive things to do to enrich your life further.
Here are a list of ideas to get started:
- Exercising and going to the gym.
- Starting Martial Arts.
- Reading a book.
- Spending more time with friends and family.
- More time for prayer and mindfulness.
- Planning future goals.
- Travelling & exploring.
- Spending more time doing the things you love.
You’re now left with a choice to construct your life how you want. Will you use this information to better it, or stick with doing the same thing that you’ve done in the past?
The choice is yours…