How To Turn Off The TV And Start Living

by CJRose

Most of us have favorite programs we enjoy watching. But it is all too easy to become a TV addict. Follow the tips in this article to break free of your TV addiction.

Our love affair with TV often begins for most of us while watching our favorite TV programs as children. According to the website The Real Truth , the average person spends 13 years of their life watching TV. TV addiction has become a recognized condition. But why do we do it, and how do we break free of our TV addiction and start living again?

My Love Affair With TV

I don't remember the first time I watched TV, but I know I was hooked from an early age.  Every day after school, I would come home and watch TV, mostly cartoons.  I had quite a few programs I loved.  One was called "Button Moon".  The characters were a kitchen utensils going to a moon in a home-made spaceship .It was pretty low budget, but I loved the spirit of adventure.  

I also enjoyed cartoons.  My favorite was about a street of people who lived on "Pigeon Street".  The drawings were endearing, and I remember feeling happy when watching a song about a woman lorry driver called "Long Distance Clara".  

I also enjoyed "The Smurfs".  I felt scared when Gargamel (the evil wizard) was on, and relieved when the Smurfs were victorious in winning whatever battle they were fighting with Gargamel.  Of course, the Smurfs always won, and I felt that everything was right in the world. 

Fast forward a few decades, no pun intended, and TV can still evoke the same feelings for me.  I feel the warmth of laughter when I watch comedy, empathy with the struggles of my favorite soap character, and hope when the movie I'm watching has a happy ending.

 However, I am also aware of another emotion - guilt.  When I spend copious amounts of time watching TV, what I call "living my life by the TV schedule", and won't do certain activities because they interfere with my viewing time, I know something is up. I could be using all that time to make my life better.  I don't imagine when I get to the end of my life I will say:" I wish I spent more time watching TV".   As someone I know put it "I want to be in the movie of my life, not watching the movie of someone else's life"

Why Do We Do It?

 A couple of months ago I became aware of my addiction.  I was doing very few activities outside the house.  I wasn't happy.  I felt that I was just getting through the day, rather than living, and I wanted to live. 

I started to look at the reasons behind my TV addiction.  Living alone, it is all too easy to switch on the TV for company, yet I knew the reasons behind my addiction ran deeper than that.  When I wrote about why I was using the TV as a crutch, I felt that my career wasn't where I wanted it to be.  I wasn't happy where I was, but wasn't sure how to change, and TV provided an excellent diversion.  

Gradually through writing and discovering what I wanted, I cut back the hours I spent watching TV, and started living again.  I took a different direction with my career, wrote a new business plan, and started to work on the things I wanted to do.  

I am not perfect at this, and I still watch TV compulsively sometimes.  Now when I start worrying about how I can fit all my commitments around my TV schedule, I know I have slipped back. I try to identify what am I avoiding, and get on with something more productive instead.

Guided Meditations and Affirmations to Help Overcome TV Addiction

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8 Tips To Overcome TV Addiction

The following tips have helped me to switch off the TV and get my life in balance again:

  1. Identify the reason why you are watching so much TV.  I found writing about this helped.  If you are dissatisfied with your life take steps to change it.

  2. Establish a schedule. Review your viewing habits.  Look at what programs you can cut out.   Get a TV guide or look it up online.  Decide which programs you want to watch each day.  Stick to a set number of hours and don't go over it.

  3. Set goals for your life.  I set a couple of goals per day.  I found that making and reaching goals so satisfying that I didn't want to waste time watching a lot of TV.  I have gained confidence from fully participating in my life.  

  4. Do activities you enjoy  Meet up with friends.  Take up old hobbies or find new ones.  What have you always wanted to do?  Maybe you have always wanted to write a novel or paint.  What are you waiting for?      

  5. Don't watch reruns.  They are a waste of time.  Think about what you could be doing instead and do something more productive.

  6. Don't sit through the ad breaks or channel hop, either record so you can fast forward through the commercials, or get up and do something else.  I often find that I get so involved in doing another task that I forget to watch the rest of the program.

  7. If you feel guilty about watching TV, you might find it useful to do a menial task while watching the TV, such as ironing (but don't burn yourself), or sorting a drawer.

  8. If you have other things to do, for example computer work, and don't want the TV to distract you, do it in another room, where you won't be tempted to reach for the remote control.

For me, a hour or two a day of TV helps me relax.  But more than that isn't healthy.  Life is too precious to waste spending hours in front of the TV.  Be in the movie of your life, don't just watch it.


Further Reading

The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life

How does the passive act of watching televisionaffect a developing child's relationship to the real world? Marie Winn takes a compelling look at television's impact on children and the family and gaining control of your TV.

View on Amazon

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

This book is the first ever to advocate that the medium is not reformable. Its problems are inherent in the technology. Speaking of TV reform is, in the words of the author, "as absurd as speaking of the reform of a technology such as guns."

View on Amazon

Updated: 01/22/2014, CJRose
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CJRose on 01/05/2014

Hi WordChazer I have a friend who doesn't watch TV at all and cancelled her licensed. She did have a TV set and I think they made her the the plug off it. Thanks for your comment.

Guest on 01/05/2014

The TV was usually only on in this house when I had to undertake The Ironing! I don't even know how to operate our new box so that nips that one in the bud right off. I seriously considered cancelling the licence earlier this year but I doubt any licence enforcer who called here would believe we hardly watched TV given the connectivity levels in this place.

CJRose on 01/05/2014

Hi Mira It's good to have some discernment about what you watch. I will look forward to reading your article. Thanks for your comment. Carol

Mira on 01/04/2014

Well, I think there are lots of interesting things on TV. I am pretty choosey but I do find programs I like. In fact, that reminds me to write about one in the coming days. :)
But yes, you're right, watching TV because you can't think of something better is not good.

CJRose on 01/04/2014

Hi Abby Yes I think that a lot of my TV watching was due to boredom as well. Writing is a much more satisfying activity. At least I have produced something at the end of it. Thanks for your comment.

AbbyFitz on 01/03/2014

I used to watch a lot of tv, but I learned that I was watching out of inactivity and boredom. I found a hobby, writing, that takes up my spare time

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