As you may remember, I started the Laws of Bliss as an antidote for my obsession with television. Obsession is a strong word. I’ve never been obsessed with T.V. in the same way I’ve been obsessed with donuts. But, after finding myself watching an inordinate amount of bad television, I knew it was time to find a new hobby. While food photography and blogging seem natural to me now, they weren’t necessarily clear choices at the time. Here are some other hobbies that I also considered at the time.
- Biking: Fun fact about me--I don’t know how to ride a bike. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve actually never set foot (set ass?) on a bicycle, so maybe I do know how to ride a bike intuitively (highly unlikely), but I’ve never tried. While I love the idea of being an obnoxious Brooklyn hipster whose main mode of transportation is a bamboo bicycle, in reality, this dream was never going to work out because bicyclists are very vocal about how much space they need, and I am dainty little woman who likes to take up as little space as possible.
- Gardening: we are #blessed to have our own garden/backyard in Brooklyn. It has brought us tremendous joy and boosted our quality of life, so what better way to enjoy our garden than by becoming an amateur gardener? But after three hours of “researching” how to be a home gardener, the only thing I had learned was that I wanted a non-functional antique watering can. And now we have noxious weeds overtaking our garden so that went well.
- Hiking: oh, wait, I live in New York City.
- Knitting: oh, wait, I’m not 100 years old.
- Singing: oh, wait, my voice sounds like a mashup of the Black Eyed Peas and Nancy Grace.
After I settled on cooking and blogging, my evenings after work became filled with writing, researching, cooking, and food photography, instead of watching the tube. But fast forward six months later, and I am back at watching T.V. several nights a week, sometimes for over an hour. To some of you, an hour of T.V. may seem like the appetizer to an entrée (binge-watching an entire season of The Walking Dead), but for me, it is a big deal.
My Rocky Relationship with Television
For a significant part of my formative years (ages 4-12), I was deprived of a staple in American childhood: cable television. My father, wise man that he was, thought his kids would focus more on school if they didn’t have the distraction of television around. Cruel as this was, he was indeed right. I poured all of my extra time and energy into my studies, devouring dozens of books each month and proudly asking my teachers for extra homework. Have we talked about how I was most definitely a nerd?
Then, at the age of 12, my father pulled a 180 and signed up for DirectTV. All of a sudden, I had access to over 200 channels. Except for the nudey ones, obviously. I remember one Saturday, when my parents weren’t home, I literally spent hours watching I Love Lucy reruns and reveling in the hedonism of it all. I soon began doing that with other television shows, and before I knew it, I was spending a considerable portion of my tween summers watching such classic and well-regarded shows as Degrassi: The Next Generation and Passions: The Greatest Soap Opera There Ever Was. I was binge-watching before binge-watching became cool.
I think my current resistance to watching too much television stems from those unbridled self-indulgent summer afternoons spent glued to the recliner, remote in one hand, Entenmann’s cookie box in the other hand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete abstainer when it comes to T.V. Max and I often get caught up in dramatic television series, such as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, and watch light-hearted comedies on weeknights before bed. But in general, I try to avoid watching television for the sake of watching television.
So when I found myself binge-watching the entire season of Stranger Things in a weekend and watching three episodes of The Night Of in one day, I knew I was dangerously close to reverting to my bad tweenage habits.
Cutting Out Cable for the Week
I wish I had some juicy details to give you about how hard it was to go without watching T.V. for a week, or how I cheated and ended up watching Friends reruns out of desperation. But in reality, giving up T.V. was quite easy for me, and it yielded so many benefits. For one thing, I became a productivity machine. I was making so many to-do lists (and actually doing the to-dos) that I had to download a to-do list app and color code my to-do lists. The last time I completed so many to-do lists was back in law school, a period when I, not surprisingly, did not have a television.
In this week alone, I achieved tasks that I had been putting off for weeks, even months, and I felt accomplished and productive instead of lazy and tired, which is how I usually feel after work. I even launched a small business called Figberry with my friend! Check it out and subscribe! K, thanks.
Not watching television for a week even helped me get to know myself better. It reminded me that I am the kind of person who thrives on being productive and getting things done. Lest you think I am boasting, you should know that this proclivity also means I’m the kind of crazy person who finds cross-referenced, color-coded to-do lists more calming than scented bubble baths.
Before this week, I had been conceptualizing television as my end-of-the-day treat for going to work and doing all that difficult lawyering. But now I realize that my preferred treat, at least on most days, is simply having the time to work on projects and hobbies that I care about and enjoy. Or, meeting up with friends. I have friends who aren’t to-do lists, I’ll have you know.
There was, however, one downside to not watching television. During the week, Max and I don’t get to spend that much time together, so watching a T.V. show before bedtime is when we get to cuddle on the couch and enjoy each other’s company. Without Netflix as a crutch, frankly, we realized that we just don't have that much in common. JUST KIDDING. We are basically the same person in two different bodies. But in all seriousness, without television, we missed out on that shared 30 minutes of mutual relaxation, which was kind of sad. But not sad enough to get me back to the dark side! It's now day 11 of my No-T.V. Experiment. Yes, that's right, I've continued on with this happiness hack! To be fair, I did make an exception for the presidential debate this past Monday. After all, it was a mood-lifting comedy for the ages.
Have you ever cut T.V. out of your life? How did you feel? Drop me a line in the comments!
Here's to greater productivity and colored-coded to do lists,