September 16, 2010
Lately I’ve been thinking that I need to monitor more closely what I put in my head. I typically don’t watch the news, or as I call it – the ‘Negative Events We Showcase’. Because that’s mostly what it is, right? It’s rare to see a story where someone is highlighted because they did something nice, or positive in their community. But rather, it’s usually about the latest scandal, natural disaster, or the Dow’s latest drop. I find that usually the news leaves me feeling sad, distressed, helpless, or anxious – not good feelings. Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand the value and importance of being informed about what is going on in the world. But on the other hand, watching too much of the news leaves me down – and that’s not good for me either. Whenever I think about this, I often go to a part in the movie The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, where James Arthur Ray talks about this very thing. He says “Maybe you have to be informed, but you don’t need to be inundated.”
In all the reading and studying I’ve been doing lately, I hear repeatedly that it is important in life to keep your energy vibration up – to be positive, and to try to remain in a space of love. I noticed the other night, that some of the programs I watch on TV also leave me feeling down. For example, I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, and Parenthood – all great shows. However. There is never a happy ending. Ever. Good things never last long. There is always some drama about “who is cheating on who”, or “who is doing drugs”, or “who miscarried their pregnancy”, or “who is caught in a scandal now”? It’s just too much… drama. Why can’t things ever just sail smoothly? As much as I like these shows, I realized that they were also leaving me feeling sad, disappointed, stressed, etc. And for what? Fictional TV shows should not make me feel that way!
So I have made a choice – to eliminate shows from my life that don’t benefit me in some way. I have decided I will only watch programs that make me laugh (Modern Family, 30 Rock, Ellen), make me cry – but in a good way (think Extreme Makeover Home Edition), educate me (Dr. Oz, documentaries – things in that vein), or inspire me (some shows do all of the above!). I get absolutely zero positive effect in my life from watching what the Kardashians or any of the Housewives are doing. It’s just that simple. And I get it – TV doesn’t always have to be serious or educational or heavy. Sometimes you just want to sit down and watch something light. For me, that’s what shows like Top Chef and House Hunters are for. But just because something is light, does not mean it should also be mind-numbing and dumbing.
Shoot, there were a couple of years where we didn’t even have TV. I realized that it had become a source of angst in my life. If I would let her, my daughter would have watched TV from the moment she got up until she had to leave for school, then from the moment she returned from school till she went to bed. So eating breakfast was a fight. Getting ready for school was a fight. Doing homework was a fight. Helping with dinner was a fight. Showering and getting ready for bed was a fight. Going to bed was a fight. I eventually started telling her “If you can’t handle the TV, then I’ll get rid of it.” But you know what? I realized it wasn’t just her. I couldn’t handle it either. After she’d go to bed, and I had just a few hours to myself, how did I spend that time? Reading? Writing? Playing piano? Meditating? No. Watching TV. And sometimes I’d even watch things I’d already seen! I was just as bad. That’s when I knew it was time to pull the trigger.Right after I canceled our service, my daughter asked me “Mommy, how long do we have to not have TV?” My response? “I don’t know honey. Until mommy can’t take it anymore I guess.” I was expecting there were going to be fights and complaints and meltdowns right away. But you know what? It wasn’t a problem at all. It just went away. All of a sudden my daughter was getting ready for school with no problem. She was doing her homework with no problem. She was getting ready for bed and going to bed – NO PROBLEM. It was awesome! And we were doing things together again. We rode bikes and went on walks and did crafts and played games and read books. And when we wanted a TV fix, we either watched one of the many movies we have at home (that were collecting dust), or we rented one. It was great. But… eventually I decided maybe we could have it back.
Well before I knew it, we were all caught up again – watching too much, watching too long, and watching total crap. Our DVR was full of reality TV and trash. Then I had an epiphany – I am in charge of my emotions. I am responsible for the care of my spirit, and decisions as simple as what I watch on TV, factor into that. I realized it was time I evaluated and monitored what I am bringing into my life, and how I am spending that time. Many shows did not make the cut, and that’s fine, because it left me with the shows that add some sort of value to my life. So yes mom, TV may rot my brain, but it will no longer rot my spirit.