I recently just got back from an awesome trip to Japan. Tokyo is an amazing city if you ever get a chance to go. One thing I noticed about when I travel is how very little if any television I watch when I’m on the road. I usually stay in hostels or in the case of Japan “capsule hotels” which usually don’t have TVs to watch. Even if they do, they’re in another language. But why would you want to watch TV all day? You’re traveling! I usually spend most of my weekends traveling here in Korea to the city of Busan, so rarely do I spend anytime on the weekends watching TV. It got me thinking, why can’t I have fun during the week too? Why spend the rest of the time at home watching TV? So, in my second attempt to give up TV, I’ll be turning off the tube and living it up for a month.
Hypothesis: I believe that TV watching causes too much sedentary time. I think this experience will lead to more exercise and some weight loss. I also think I’ll start picking up better habits that I somehow convinced myself that I never have time for. It’s easy to let TV become the default thing to do to relieve stress or boredom. I’m hoping this experience will lead to healthier ways to solve those problems.
My Current TV Habit
Back in 2012, I tried to kick the TV habit when I moved into my new apartment. It was the first time I had moved somewhere and not signed-up for cable. I thought I was doing the right thing. But TV has changed. Now in 2014 you can get almost any show or movie you want either legitimately through iTunes, Google or Amazon or through the hundreds of video sites hosting pirated content. So while the medium has changed, the content still remains the same.
My quest to forgo TV was successful in cutting out a lot of the habitual shows I was watching, but it only merely switched my viewing habits to watching more movies instead. Eventually I just gave it up and resorted to watching TV again. None of the content I watch contains commercials and I can watch it whenever I want. My TV viewing habits usually begin when eating dinner and continue on through the rest of the night until I go to bed.
Why Do We Watch TV To Begin With?
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself that? Why do you watch? If I asked you to stop watching TV for a whole week, could you do it? I started to really think about this habit and realized that the habit of TV solves several problems:
- Eating At Home Alone – After working all day, a little dinner and TV is nice. Since I live alone, I usually eat dinner at home by myself. The thought of eating at home in silence in strange, but I know that watching TV while eating leads to eating more than you need. Maybe being more fully in the moment during eating will reduce the amount of food and allow me to eat more consciously.
- Relaxing After Work And Before Bed – I don’t have a really stressful job, but a little TV time is an easy and effortless way to relax after work. I pop on my favorite shows and sit back and do nothing. No thinking involved. The problem with this is nothing else gets done and hours go by with nothing really interesting happening. Some people read before bed or browse the Internet, but I find that I often will watch a TV show right before bed. I guess its a comfort thing to know that this is the last chance to relax before I have to wake-up and work the next day.
- Avoiding The Important Things In Life – What’s the best way to avoid having enough time for all the important things in your life? Fill it with unimportant activities life watching TV. Don’t feel like working out….watch some TV. Don’t want to spend all that time learning a new skill…watch some TV. Want to catch up on reading?…nah. TV is easy.
- Boredom – I don’t think people like to admit that they are bored. Who wants to tell other people that they are bored. That they live a boring life. But it happens to all of us. Its that moment in the day when you really are not sure what you should be doing. TV is an all too familiar cure. Just turn on, tune in and boom…no more boredom.
The Game Plan
I realized that changing my viewing habits requires more than turning off the tube. Just like chewing gum when you quit smoking, each trigger of a habit must be addressed with a healthier solution. Here’s my plan for doing so:
- Finding New Ways To Relax After Work And Before Bed – Yesterday I just spent a day at a Jjimjilbang (Korean Spa) and realized that things like saunas and hot tubs are amazing at relaxing the body. I’m thinking about starting up new habits like meditation, deep breathing, going for a walk, to help me unwind in a healthier way. Yoga’s proving to be very beneficial in this area.
- Finding New Ways To Cure Boredom – There is still so many things I want to do in life but have always convinced myself that I’ll never have enough time. I thought about learning to play the guitar, learning another language, learning to create music and art. Learning web design and how to play chess. I’d love to write more. In fact it’s about 7PM on day one of this experiment and I’ve spent my evening writing this blog post. Just imagine if I could write everyday! Now that I think about it, there’s so much to do in this world, that I’m not sure why I wasted so much time watching TV in the first place.
- Mindful Eating – I had a chance to spend the night at a Buddhist Temple in Korea and they explained the meal ritual that they performed at every meal. The process consisted of carefully eating every bit and chewing a certain numbers of times before lowering their chopsticks again. The whole process was a practice in mindfulness. The complete opposite of this is eating while watching TV, where you are fully distracted from what you are eating. I hope to gain a new perspective on how I approach eating.
Photo Credits (Flickr)