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I grew up watching TV as my favorite of the stress relief activities. I also played outside a lot and was on sports teams. I did not overdo the TV watching. Now that I have kids myself, though, things have changed a lot. When my daughter was 18 months old, she woke up one morning and before even asking for food, she grabbed the remote. She demanded I put Netflix on so she could watch the movie "Sing." It made me reflect on what I was doing as a parent, and the example I was setting. I decided that the solutions of moving the TV down to the basement! Removing the TV changed my life. Out of sight, out of mind.

Why is it that reading makes us feel different and more accomplished than when we watch the movie of that book? The feeling is different, and it is because one is building us up, and the other is not.

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How Is TV Different Now?

When I watched TV as a kid, I would flick through about 20 - 50 channels. If something was on that I liked, I would wait for it for an hour or 30 minutes, and then it was over, and I would move on. There were times though where nothing was on, and I didn't even bother to watch TV.

Now TV is different. We have NETFLIX, HULU, PRIME STREAMING, and there is always something you can watch. The fact that the term "BINGE WATCHING" is a thing is crazy! Binging anything is usually not a great thing!

Now kids do not have to wait, whatever they want comes to them fast, and it's at their fingertips. We all know that dreams don't come true after 10 seconds in the microwave. It sets you up to not be able to deal with failure.

Removing the TV was a Game Changer

1. Removing The TV Kills Zombie Mode and The Worst of The Stress Relief Activities

With the TV around, my daughter would stare at it for an hour and a half straight. No blinking, no moving anything but her jaw while eating as many snacks as she could. But she was a zombie, all she cared about was that TV. If you go in her way, she looked through you or around you to make sure she was getting what she wanted.

It made me think, and we are all like that when we watch TV. It's why we love movies and shows because we don't have to engage our brains or imagination at all. It is not to say that there is nothing ever worth watching. I loved Black Panther as much as any other person, but watching it every other day on Netflix may not be the best thing.

When we removed the TV was she bored? Not at all! She found ways to keep herself entertained. She was not in zombie mode, and she was talking, interacting, learning, and discovering. She was reading books, playing, and wanting to go outside more. How could I ever make the argument that TV was better for her?

2. Removing The TV Invites Accomplishment 

You can finish a movie or TV show any day or time, and you never end it feeling accomplished, and there is a reason for that. It's not moving your life forward at all, and we have convinced ourselves that it's normal and that we NEED TV. Go to some houses now, and they have a 60 inch TV in every room. They need to make sure that they never miss a thing!

Why is it that reading makes us feel different and more accomplished than when we watch the movie of that book? The feeling is different, and it is because one is building us up, and the other is not.

3. More Opportunities to Learn

Once you remove all the time that you spend watching TV, you can fill it with other things. Here is something scary to think about. We live in some of the best times to access to knowledge and power. Most of us don't use it though, because we are too busy watching funny videos. You can go on iTunes and take classes at STANFORD FOR FREE. Instead, we are watching cat videos and reruns of Prison Break.

Take your pick on what you want to learn from.

Udacity, YouTube, Podcasts, Audiobooks, ebooks, Paper Back Books, iTunesU, and TED Talks

The options are endless, but the point is that most of the options above are at your fingertips. Meaning that at a moments notice you can be learning about whatever you want to instead of watching TV.

Removing The TV Can Replace Music With Learning 

Once you start watching less TV, you begin listening to less music as well. Music lovers are going to hate this, but we tend to listen to way too much music as a society as well.

Here is the problem that they do not tell you about music. It comes with a HIGH opportunity cost. Most of the time, when you listen to music, you are doing it alone. You are giving up social opportunities to build your network.

The other opportunity cost of listening to music is the amount of learning that you give up. Some people commute 30 minutes to work and back daily bumping their favorite songs. That comes up to about 120 hours a year. That is 120 hours a year you could be learning something new. If you have been driving for ten years, you see how that starts to add up.

The problem with life is that we often miss the big picture. The little things add up even when we do not think they are a big deal. A person who is learning for 120 hours a year for ten years has turned their car into a mobile university. They are getting a Ph.D.

4. Removing The TV Brings Time in Silence

One of the reasons that my wife and I have a good marriage is because we spend time in solitude daily. Even when we had the TV, we would turn it off. We would sit there in silence and enjoy the presence of each other.

I have noticed something scary when I work with kids today. Having to be quiet and alone with their thought is the most frightening thing. They want to be on their phones, or they need something to distract them from having to be with their feelings. That is not healthy.

Not having a TV means that at the dinner table, you are going to more conversation. It means that your family will talk more and everyone wins from that situation.

5. Reminds You That On Demand Has Made Some Rich But The Majority Poor

We have on-demand services from:

  • GrubHub
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • Amazon
  • Spotify
  • Hulu
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Apple Music
  • and MANY MORE...

On-demand has made the founders of the companies productive, which is excellent, and I have no problem with that. I have used some of the services before. If YOU want to reach your real potential, you are NOT going to spend all your time using the companies above. You are going to need some discipline.

On-demand makes us feel like we can get anything with the snap of our fingers, but we are blowing our own money to get it. To anything significant, it is going to take reps and time, and there is no on-demand to get around that.

That is why Americans will always be unhealthy! It's one of those things you can't fast track or cheat with an on-demand service. If you want to lose weight, you have to show up and put in the work daily. If you're going to recover from a heart attack, you need to work at making changes. There is no microwave solution.

Removing The TV is Good Because It's Not Your Friend

I am not saying you have to remove your TV. What I am saying is to stop looking at your TV and Netflix like it is here to love and cherish you because they are not! They are here to make sure you keep paying that subscription and spend as much time as possible on it.

To reach your real potential, it's not going to happen watching reruns of your favorite show. It's going to come from having the HUNGER to learn and be better. There is no other way!

Supplemental Read

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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