Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Next Smartest Thing

Just a few days ago, I wrote of my new lease on life since the TV moved out of the living room. There is a "part two" to that story that is still unfolding as I type but if I write it down, I may do my part to keep a good thing going.

I am trying to break the habit of using the TV in my room as a sleeping pill. I know exactly when, how and why this habit started. Turning on the TV and tuning into something that holds my attention turns off my own thoughts. The moment I stop thinking, I fall asleep. Thus, my habit began. They say sleeping pills are addictive. From my own personal experience, I wonder if any sleeping aid becomes something you begin to rely on and even look forward to is just as powerful as a drug.

Yes, I have come to look forward to those middle of the night soirées with just me and my TV. During the years where I fell asleep the moment I sat still, I would wake up with great excitement thinking "Now, I can actually watch a whole TV show!!". I would turn on the television, find something that interested me and poof! Sometime during or after the opening credits to said show, I was fast asleep.

I thought I should probably try to break my little habit but wondered, "Why?" It isn't hurting anyone and I love these mini TV marathons I try to run in the middle of the night.

It is only recently that I have admitted I have a problem. The problem began when I started turning on the TV just before my alarm went off. "I'll just stay in bed until 'Leave it to Bryan' is over" I would tell myself. Then the time changed and "Leave it to Bryan" became "Marriage Under Construction" and I got to know that cast of characters and wanted to know how their construction projects ended. The only thing is, I never ever really got to watch any of these shows because I fell fast asleep the moment I became interested. The only thing that could wake me from that deep slumber was Mike Holmes (I just don't like his 'tone' - it wakes me up).

It was becoming harder and harder to climb out of bed in the morning (partially due to the fact that Mike Holmes was delayed by another hour which would make me seriously late in waking up) and my ache to wake up to the TV instead of the alarm pushed me to the breaking point. I actually set the "wake" timer on the TV. It was the dumbest and the smartest move I've made in recent history.

I hated waking up to the TV. It is my sedative, not my wake up call. So I cancelled that timer but some little bell rang in my head. I started wondering what my nights and mornings would be like with the TV turned off. It turns out they are kind of wonderful.

I still wake up in the middle of the night but I can't even recall how long I am awake because the next thing I know, I'm fast asleep. I wake up before my alarm goes off and just lie still with my thoughts. I started to realize that maybe the reason I have been waking up on "empty" is because I have invited television to steal my ability to think. I turn it on and I tune my thoughts out, thus I wake up feeling dull and brainless.

I have had five televisionless nights and mornings now. The combination of moving the TV out of the living room, added to the blackout during my sleeping and waking hours has been a life changer. My thoughts are clearer, I can remember more than two things at once, I can multitask again, words are coming to the tip of my tongue quicker and I feel more energized.

I just now realized I have thought these thoughts before. And thanks to the magic of journalling my every thought, I can tell you the exact day I had this very epiphany. September 15, 2008. I wrote this:

I have also found the exact date when my downward spiral to my TV addiction taking over my life and thoughts began. It was May 3, 2011:

I wrote it here first. I know when it happened. I now know what I realized seven years ago. "I knew my life was better without 'TV' in it. I just didn't realize how much." (originally written September 15, 2008)

I think the tides have turned. The first step to to addiction is admitting you have a problem: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol television — that our lives had become unmanageable." ~ paraphrased from Alcohols Anonymous 12 Step Program

The knowledge was within me all along. I just had to turn off the TV to find it again.

"When in doubt, look within for the answer. You're more powerful than you think."

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