Is Television Limiting Your Life?

September 18th, 2009

TelevisionDespite the fact that many of us are extremely busy, stressed, and deprived of sleep, we somehow manage to watch more television than ever. If you’ve ever wondered why you’re always short on time and why you never seem to accomplish what you’d like, the answer may very well be right in front of your eyes.

According to a report from The Nielson Company, the average American watched a record breaking 151 hours per month of television during the fourth quarter of 2008. This amounts to approximately 35 hours per week which is almost the equivalent of a full time job.

Although television is a convenient source of entertainment, it’s usually mindless, provides little to no meaningful value, and can sometimes be a harmful influence. The following are three reasons why television detracts from the quality of your life and why you should minimize the amount of time that you spend watching it.

Time is Precious

We each have a limited amount of time to accomplish our most meaningful goals and experience a rewarding and fulfilling life. If watching television is what’s most important to you, that’s fine, but chances are that you’d like to do much more with your life.

Most people watch television for pure entertainment, and by doing so, they’re sacrificing precious time to live through the experiences of others. In most cases, these experiences are either stressful, completely worthless, or influential in a harmful way. This is especially the case with reality television which is often centered around people who create drama with everything they do. Unfortunately, it seems that many of us enjoy watching others encounter problems, perhaps because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We also tend to love fictitious stories that are intense and highly exaggerated, and this is probably a result of being bored with our own lives.

The only thing stopping you from living a more balanced, enjoyable, and exciting life is yourself, and sitting in front of a television for 35 hours per week is certainly not going to help. Imagine if you dedicated some of this time to reading more, exercising, preparing healthy food, and getting more sleep. After a few months, you’d likely feel invigorated with new knowledge, better health, more energy, increased mental clarity, a leaner and more muscular body, and an improved sense of overall wellness. You definitely won’t experience any of these benefits from watching television.

If it’s mostly your job that’s holding you back from living a better life, 35 hours per week is plenty of time to learn new skills, discover new passions, and create the opportunity for a new career that’s more exciting and fulfilling. In addition, you could dedicate more time to leisurely activities and hobbies that will provide more meaning and allow you to experience life directly rather than through a television screen.

An Unrecognized Source of Stress

Anything that causes you to be excited, fearful, nervous, anxious, or worried is a source of stress that imposes a physiological burden on your body. Although few people realize it, the intense television programming that is so common today can easily invoke these negative emotions and add to the high load of stress that most people are already dealing with.

Watching the news can especially be a considerable source of stress. The leading story right now from CNN is about a woman who was violently beaten in front of her child. Some of the other headlines include a terror probe, letting guns on Amtrak trains, the strangling of a Yale student, and a gang rape at Hofstra. While it’s highly doubtful that these stories will add any value to your life, it’s very likely that they’ll invoke some unnecessary negative emotions. The news is always full of sensationalized drama that’s sure to affect your mood. You’ll likely find out about all of the important stories that you need to without watching the news. Despite the fact that I haven’t watched the news in several years, I always manage to find out what I need to, and I feel that I’m better off not knowing about most of the ridiculous things that are going on around the world.

Watching television can also consume the time we need to get important tasks done. When this happens and we finally get around to doing them, it’s common to feel panicked and work frantically to get them done. This is yet another source of stress to add to the hectic lifestyle that’s overwhelming many of us and leading to compromised health and adrenal fatigue.

The Power of Persuasion

Although you might think that you don’t pay much attention to television commercials and that they have no influence on you, you’re most likely mistaken. If this were the case, companies wouldn’t be spending enormous amounts of money on them. Most commercials are intentionally designed to inspire a strong desire or a perceived need for the product or service being advertised. For example, you might see misleading commercials suggesting that Cheerios lowers cholesterol, that you can lose weight easily with FullBar, or that taking Aspirin could save your life. Regardless of how effective the product or service actually is, it’s in the best interest of these companies to have you believe that it’s the best solution to your problems, and there’s a good chance that you will.

Drug and food companies run many of the commercials that you see, and unfortunately, they often promote the shortsighted symptom chasing mentality that’s such a significant factor in the development of today’s most serious health problems.

It’s also common for misleading information to make it’s way into regular programming. For example, the popular weight loss show, The Biggest Loser, glorifies the effort of contestants who overexercise and practically starve themselves. Not only is this awful for your health, but it’s an ineffective way to lose weight which is made evident by the many contestants who regained the weight they lost after leaving the show. Unfortunately, this show has inspired many people to follow the same flawed and unhealthy approach, and many other shows are influencing people in similar ways.

Take Responsibility

Although it may sound as if I’m blaming a lot of things on television, that’s not the case. It’s your responsibility to look after yourself, manage your time, protect your health, and be critical of all information. Television is just one of many modern influences that can make it difficult for you to do these things effectively. In fact, other popular sources of mainstream media such as the internet, magazines, newspapers, and radio can have this effect as well. If you’re unable to benefit from these outlets without being negatively affected, the only person you can blame is yourself.

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