It’s late in the evening and I’m about to embark on one of my favourite pastimes, going for a walk. I have my earphones in and I look at the list of podcasts that await my listening. The theme is the exact one I write about; health, fitness and self development. I get halfway up the street I live and my eyes wander. I guess our eyes really are attracted/sensitive to light. I can see televisions on in almost every window. The sun is setting, and it’s not quite dark enough for everyone to ‘close up’ for the night and pull the curtains, hence my secret view to the insides of my neighbours’ lives.
Is this all everyone does nowadays? I ask myself. Is our free time so devoid of value that we resort to watching television when we could be moving, learning and socialising?
I have a TV in my house of course, but the poison is in the dose, as they say. I grew up under the influence of my parents, who would watch TV in all their non-working, waking moments. It was all soap operas and unrealistic dramas, oh, and the news of course! The evening news couldn’t be missed for fear of “not knowing what’s going on in the world.” As a young and naive boy, I didn’t know any different. I thought this was ‘normal’; everyone does this, right?
The masses do this, yes. Fall into a trap of mediocrity. Of not challenging yourself each day. Of forgetting you’re a dynamic organism – one that was built for continual evolution.
Strangely enough, around the same era that I found my way to a state of health-consciousness, I found my TV consumption began to dwindle. And it makes sense…….getting fit plants the seed which begins the desire to challenge the status quo; if all I knew was a lifetime of being unfit and unhealthy yet now being fit and healthy is my new reality, why can’t other areas of life that seem ‘normal’ be challenged?
I know many people have removed their television sets from their homes completely and never looked back. They’ve reported better focus, more presence, immeasurable boosts in productivity and even less stress and better sleep. Television is a monumental distraction. You may sit beside your spouse or even children watching TV, but are you truly present? If your child says something, are you really listening……..Really listening? Our brains aren’t wired for true multi-tasking. What actually takes place is switching between tasks very quickly, not multi-tasking in the truest sense. Therefore in that situation you’re either watching TV or listening to your children/spouse.
Giving those whose company you’re blessed with your full presence is the ultimate gift you can offer. Speaking personally, I converse far better when I’m fully present in a conversation. Reducing my television exposure has been the best thing I’ve done recently to enhance my productivity, cognitive function, sleep and overall happiness.
If nothing else, hopefully this post has made you conscious to the type of TV you expose yourself to. What did it add to your life? What did it teach you? Did it impact you positively? Could you have spent those precious 60 minutes elsewhere?
Turn it off. Go for a walk. Read. Meditate. Stretch. Have a wholehearted conversation with a loved one. Write. Be present. It’s a challenge we’re all facing, but it’s one I plan on winning.