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Oh, the many hours I spent slumped on the couch, watching brainless television. So many days of my life I will never get back. These days, I think TV’s are mostly noise: distractions from living your full potential. I traded my TV for expanding my creativity, embracing playfulness in my life and exploring new passions. You can do the same.
On average, American youth watches 1200 hours of television per year. Compare that to the 900 hours per year they spend in school [source]. In the Netherlands, TV time is ‘only’ about half the time, which comes down to two and a half hours a day [source]. Still, that is a crazy amount of time! You honestly aren’t allowed to say that you ‘don’t have time’ to make things happen, when you are spending the equivalent of 9 years of your life staring at a box.
But you like watching TV. It’s relaxing. It’s fun. It’s easy. It clearly must bring you some kind of value; otherwise you wouldn’t spend so much time doing it. My theory: watching TV is a habit that tries to fill a void.
You want to be happy and live a good life. This life is presented to you in the form of romantic comedies, people getting their dream house, or simply because some people out there are so crazy you feel slightly more normal yourself.
Every time you are sad, anxious or bored, you end up watching TV, because it’s the way you deal with things. You might temporarily shut up a nagging feeling of discomfort by watching something semi-satisfying. But these are substitutes for the real thing! Why not do something actually fulfilling and satisfying instead?
“But I need a TV to watch the news” No you don’t. How do you think you are reading the words I wrote here? It’s called the Internet. Now, I’m not saying you should trade all your TV time for Internet time. What I am saying is that how you spend your time, better be a conscious decision than watching something crappy ‘because it was the best thing that was on’. If you do watch a movie, a documentary or TED-talk, do it because you think it will inspire you, teach you something, because you would like to invest your time in it. Don’t do it to numb your feelings or simply to make the time pass.
If TV is one of your big habits, throwing it out might be a bridge too far. But why not take up a less radical challenge: a week without television, or perhaps a month. Decide to use your sudden extra time on a project you have been dying to take up, but never seem to find the time for. Write a book, make travel plans, hang out with your friends, make art, learn to cook a new dish, to play an instrument, discover a new passion, read a booklist, go for a walk, learn a new language, do something!
When you look back in 10 or 20 years, will you feel regret for those replays of shows you didn’t watch? No. Will you wish you had spent more time doing something worthwhile, something you love, and something worth striving for? That’s up to you.
Living passionately is in your reach, but it starts with your everyday choices on how you spend your time.