Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Do: Back Away From The Remote

This article in the Wall Street Journal talks about the happiness levels of average Americans and why we might not be as happy as 30 years ago.

Even though more women are in the work place these day , and responsibilities at home haven't changed that much, because of technology there are more free hours that can be used as we see fit.

When people rated their activities for satisfaction produced it was found that passive activities brought the least amount of satisfaction and activities where we are engaged, physically and/or mentally, were rated the most satisfying. These were things we chose to do instead of things we had to do. Things like visiting friends, playing with kids, working on a hobby, going to church, any activity that we choose to take part in brings more joy.

Over the 30 years of the survey it was found that instead of using additional free time in the pursuit of these activities we have increased the amount of time watching TV. Women now spend 15%, and men 17%, of their waking hours watching television.

Television is one of the most passive activities around. It really only presents information to two senses: hearing and sight. We don't even really process much of what we see, it is there and gone quickly and we move on. Actively engaging in the research process helps us to process and retain information.

Reading a book, walking in nature, or having a conversation with another human being, where one takes the time to ponder and think, are far more educational than watching TV. Viewing television represents an endless, purposeless, physically unfulfillable activity. Watching television has no built-in endpoint. Television keeps us sitting in one place, leaves little time for meaningful conversations and seriously impairs the ability to think.

I am guilty of using TV to fill my downtime and to entertain me. I haven't figured out exactly what percentage I'm at but I hope it isn't 15%. Television can be an effective diversion but realizing when a diversion has gotten out of control can be a real challenge. Is it keeping me from things that would promote lasting feelings that would bring a higher level of satisfaction?

My To Do assignment this week is to turn the TV off and put the remote down. I am going to allow myself 1/2 hour of TV a day to keep up with the news. Other than that I will not be engaged in watching any television this week.

My goal is to fill that time with other worthwhile activites. I will add a list of activities that I took part in at the end of this week. If anyone has any ideas or comments please leave them for me.

If you are following along on your blog please leave a comment with a link to your post about your To Do list goal for this week.

Oh, and if the world happens to end, send me an email and let me know would you? Edit: Well after two days I can report that turning the TV off is a hard habit to break! I find myself turning it on without thinking. Monday I managed to spend an entire evening without it on. I helped my son prepare for our Homeschool talent show and end of year party. We had a very pleasant evening. Last night was harder as my husband wanted me to watch a show with him. I managed to be in the room but not become absorbed in what he was watching by keeping busy sorting and filing coupons. Two days down and 5 to go.

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