Sunday, August 7, 2011

I have a life, I do, I think.

Have you heard of "flow"?

 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book called, "Flow:  The Psychology of Optimal Experience."
When you're in the flow, you're happy, feeling connected, and focused on what you're doing. It's the intense concentration of enjoying an activity to the point that time stands still. Three hours means nothing.

"High-flow" is when you're doing things that fit the above description.

"Low-flow" is the opposite. You're not focused, not engaged, time drags. You're a lump.

This study brings us to this weeks lesson: Television.

Watching television is one of the lowest flow activities out there. It requires next to nothing from you, and it's addictive. The study confirmed that television viewing sucks your energy, not just your time.
And it does that to the tune of 6 hours per day for the average American.

That's 42 hours a week!

But you affirm you're not a T.V. addict. That you couldn't possibly be spending that much time zoning in front of the tube.

Have you logged the time? Make a quick mental run through of the hours the television is on. Letting the morning news rumble in the background as you get ready for work does count.
I'll wait. Have a rough number?
Now that you have a clearer idea.
How fast could you accomplish your bucket list if you gave up television?

No television for one week, none, zero, zilch.

Is the panic setting in,  pulse racing, palms sweaty, anxiety crushing your chest?
Yeah, your not an addict--no.

Going cold turkey may not be reasonable. Can you breathe now?
After all, your spouse or kids may have a melt down.
You could let them watch, while you remove yourself from the siren's call and do other things.

 I'm serious.

If the thought of not being able to turn on the T.V. and bury yourself in the mindless glow is too much. Make a deal with yourself to cut back your viewing by half. Choose the programs you'll spend time watching, and when they're over, turn the box off.

What could we do in stead?

I have a neighbor that runs marathons. A friend takes classes. One in learning to knit, another is sewing quilts for charity. A few are writing novels. Start a business.
Here's a unique idea. We could spend time creating relationships with real people, rather than the empty, voyeuristic, fake connection with the television.

What do we do when we sit before the T.V?

We watch other people have a life.

Turn off the television and create a life of your own!

You deserve to experience the flow and joy of living.
Don't sit back as a spectator. Do!

In your journal, jot down the time spent in front of the T.V. or having it on to keep you company.

Many of us suppress emotions by checking out before the tube. Turning it off may allow feelings to  surface. That's good. We have the opportunity to deal with things we've avoided.
Avoidance doesn't change anything or make it better.
As emotions come up, write about them in your journal.

I want to hear from you.

FYI: Reading is not low flow. It makes you visualize, use your mind, and think. It's a focused activity.
No need to feel guilty about a good book.


  1. High flow, low flow. Love the concept. I took Margie Lawson's online class, How to Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior, and we filled in a "pie of life". How we spend our 24 hours in the day. When I filled mine, I was shocked. TV time was only 2 hours a night, 14 hours a week.

    14 hours!! Can you imagine the writing I could get done in 14 hours?


    Great post.

  2. I'm going to wrap the big monster in a sheet and tape it up for the week. I"ll let you know how it goes.

  3. I watch 28 hours a week of TV. :D I need those four hours each day for my mind to reboot. My mind spins like a hamster wheel the other 20 hours a day. My mind is even going ninety miles and hour while is sleep...if I can sleep. I'm a little woman in a biiiig hurry. TV is the only time I slow down.

  4. I don't enjoy TV too much anymore, but the internet that's another story. If I spent all the time writing that I do on the internet you'd be calling me Nora. :)

  5. Sounds wonderful. Okay Sandy, I've got the cord between the fingers, the scissors positioned, but the look on hubby's face is...time to compromise. I release the cord and he leaves me alone for an extra hour every night. I'm gaining my life again, even if it comes in increments of one hour at a time. :)Now that I know his weakness, I'm hiding batteries from the remote. Another hour,HA HA HA.

  6. It's so true! The TV really sucks me in and I'm dead to the outside world until the next commercial! I don't watch too much, mostly when I'm just making dinner but I've burned a meal or two.
    I'm going to cut it out of my diet this week :) we'll see how it goes. Thanks, Sandy!

  7. You are right, TV is a big time waster. So is my alternative, playing games on the computer. I just deleted the link to Snood, it was too tempting to play "one game" before starting any real work. Some people spend hours on the telephone, which sounds like "person-to-person" until you listen the the drivel that passes for conversation. Are there other time wasters out there?

  8. Great post!

    When I began writing seriously, I looked at where I could trim wasted time and use that for my craft. I bet you can guess where those hours came from. TV. I had no idea I spent 4-6 hours a day on a low-flow activity.

    To use my tv viewing effectively, I dvr'ed my two favorite shows and watch them on the weekend during my writing break. They are great for story arc, characterization, and of course, mental decompression.

    When people ask me how I "find" time to work my day-job, take care of a home and family,write a novel AND exercise, I tell them I gave up tv.

    What's great about it? My family isn't watching as much tv as in the past and we're all reading more. I also have more energy. Now I know why.

    Thanks, Sandy!

  9. What a fantastic post! I agree 100%. I'm not a major TV addict. I can and have gone for a week without watching it. I have a few favorite shows I like to watch now and then. I can get a lot more done when I don't watch.

  10. I'm not sure how much I watch. It's almost always on in the background. But do I watch it? Yeah, maybe half an hour in the evening unless Biggest Loser is on (yeah and addict). And another hour when The Voice is on. Other than that I watch a show on demand as I'm falling asleep. Most of the time I'm in front of the computer, which isn't much better. *g* Now the thought of losing that freaks me out.

  11. I rarely turn on the TV and usually to watch a movie with the family. I do catch up on shows through my laptop, but they are specific ones. I often feel out of the loop, however, because I've never seen an episode of Desperate Housewives, the Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, CSI, and many more. Still, I'd typically rather read a book.

  12. When I decided to become involved in social media to help my writing career I wondered where I would find the time. I started paying attention and I found the time by giving up several T.V. shows. It was difficult at first but it's so worth it now that I've overcome my separation anxiety. LOL I'm writing more and I'm actually interacting more with others although it is "cyber" interaction. I'm learning a bunch. Thanks for the great post!

  13. I love your comments. So many insights!
    It's great to know you have this under control.

    Thanks for supporting the blog.