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Why Do I Live Without a TV?

Why Do I Live Without a TV?

A few months ago, I was sitting at my fiancée’s apartment, curled up on the couch with her watching How I Met Your Mother.  Inherently, there was nothing wrong with what we were doing.  It’s a very funny show and we really enjoyed watching it together.  The problem was we had spent the last three hours watching How I Met Your Mother.  In that entire time, I don’t believe we spoke ten words to each other.

There we sat, on the couch, holding each other, feeling as if we’re bonding, yet not really connecting at all.  I realized I knew more about what Barney Stinson was thinking than what my loving fiancée was thinking.

This thought hit me like a punch in the stomach:

How much time do we spend watching TV, and is this healthy for us?

Being a somewhat obsessive person, coupled with un-medicated ADHD (I was diagnosed as a child and my parents refused to put me on drugs, for which I am very grateful), I decided to research the effects of television on couples.

The results were not very good.

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Generally speaking, couples who watch lots TV tend to argue more often, have less sex, lead unhealthy lifestyles, and are less satisfied with life in general.

I began searching for positive effects of television on adults.  This was a surprisingly difficult impromptu research project.  There is very little on the internet explaining how TV helps adults.  There are a few articles around how educational programing can be good for children, but apparently after the kid learns to read, it’s better to get a book.

The last straw came from a Brian Tracy quote I stumbled upon on Youtube: “Poor people have big TVs and small libraries; rich people have small TVs and big libraries.”

I decided I would much rather fall into the latter category.

Speaking with my loving and oh-so-patient fiancée, I asked her if we could do an experiment: 60 days with no television.

She listened to my reasoning and asked for a small concession: 1 movie night a week.

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I did the math: we would be reducing our television time from roughly 25 hours a week to 2; seemed a reasonable deal, so I accepted her terms.

The first week was very tough for us.  We had gotten so used to vegging out on the couch when we were home, there seemed little for us to do.  To make matters worse, we were in the middle of the hot season in Antalya, Turkey, so traveling outside was out of the question.  We walk EVERYWHERE in Antalya and did not really like doing that in 107 degree weather.

A funny thing happened after about five days: we started talking more.  A lot more.  I learned more about her in the next 60 days than I had in the last 6 months, and I loved it.  She really is a fascinating person.  On top of that, we both spent more time doing other activities we enjoyed.  My reading time quadrupled and she spent a lot of time crafting.  I now have a favorite winter hat thanks to this rekindled hobby of hers.

After the 60 days were up, we decided we wanted to keep watching How I Met Your Mother.  We spent the next three days watching 2+ hours of that show.  The normal American watches 32 hours a week of television, so we were still low on the consumption, comparatively.  But, to me, I felt a sudden shift which I didn’t like.

I became moodier, less interested in listening to her, less interested in my reading, and generally lazier than I had been.  Similar reactions from her caused us to argue more and snap at each other over silly things.

This led us to permanently reinstate the “1 movie night a week” rule.

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That was 8 months ago, and we are never going back.

A quick run-down of the benefits we enjoy which have fully cemented this decision:

1)      We get along much better.  It’s rare that we argue and when we do, we listen to each other instead of trying to find distractions.

2)      Our cooking has gotten much better.  Now that we don’t rush through the cooking process in order to plop down on the couch, we take our time and enjoy each other’s company while cooking.

3)      Meal times are slow and peaceful.  We really take a moment to enjoy what we prepared together.

4)      Our view on the future is brighter.  Before, we didn’t talk too much about the future.  A lot of our conversations revolved around TV shows we enjoyed.  Now, we talk a lot about what will happen next in our lives, not what will happen next on Prison Break.

5)      My business is less stressful.  I don’t feel constantly strained for time, and when things pile up, it’s much easier for me to focus on the task at hand without seeking mindless entertainment.

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6)      We are more interesting people.  This seems almost counter-intuitive, because a big fear I had when I started this experiment was that I wouldn’t be able to talk to my friends about TV shows like I used to.  This has proved to be completely the opposite.  Although we don’t talk about TV, with the reading we do and the projects we are always working on, we have really great stories to talk to our friends about.  Not to mention, they always want us to come over and cook now :).

7)      Our social life has improved.  When you don’t have anything to watch on TV you find things to do.  We try to spend at least one night a week visiting friends for dinner.  It’s a great way to keep things fresh and build relationships.

8)      We are much more active.  We take walks all the time and love taking our dog to the park.  We did these things before the experiment, but now we do them much more often.

These are the benefits I can think of right now.  Really, there’s an overall sense of happiness I never knew we were missing before.  I don’t ever want to lose this feeling over a television again.

Now, it’s your turn: what do you think would happen if you gave up television for 60 days?

Please leave your comments below; I would love to hear your thoughts J.

Trent

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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