Trade TV Time for Habits of Personal Development and Success

For instrumental music while reading, choose: hi-fi (broadband) or low-fi.

We are creatures of habit. In fact, psychologists say that up to 90% of our behavior is habitual.

Think of all your daily routines and notice how many of them are habits — good or bad. We have developed habits to get out of bed in a certain way, brush our teeth in a certain way, get dressed in a certain way. Likewise, most of our day is consumed by various habits: coffee drinking, the route we drive to work, the way we organize our projects, the foods we eat, and our TV time. All habits.

Once we recognize how much life is absorbed in habits, we are free to change them.

Successful people, in all areas of life, have cultivated habits deliberately to help support their intentions. Successful people, including those who excel at personal development don’t just accidentally meander to the top. Their journey is one of deliberate intent, discipline, and the cultivation of good habits that help attract the outcomes they envision.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Default Habits

The other people, the ones not at the top of their game, have allowed bad habits to monopolize their time and energy. Instead of choosing deliberately which habits best support their vision for the future, they allow default habits to drive their lives.

Default habits are the ones we inherit from others. Adopted unconsciously, they are often developed at a young age and come for our parents or other family members. It’s the way things have always been, so it seems natural to continue in the same way. It seems natural until you really stop and think about it, that is.

So many of these inherited habits were not deliberately chosen by your parents either. They were inherited from their parents. And so on, throughout the generations. This is one of the reasons why it feels uncomfortable at times around certain family members. They are still gripped by default habits that you have deliberately retired from your experience.

Examples of inherited habits include dietary details including the way you snack, the tone of voice you use talking to your spouse, your tolerance for clutter, how you maintain your vehicle, the way you interact with strangers, and the way you react to . . . (fill in the blank). Of course, each family passes on many of their own habits and idiosyncrasies.

For example, when Janey and I were first together, she had the annoying habit of leaving the kitchen cupboards open. I’d mention it to her as I followed her around closing cabinets, again and again. When I pointed it out to her, she’d shrug and say, “Okay.” Then I spent some time with her at her parent’s place. Ah ha . . . her Mom did the same thing. As a joke, when nobody was looking, I opened every single cupboard and cabinet, top and bottom, then went into the living room to wait. Throughout the evening, Janey and her Mom went into the kitchen several times, separately and together, but nothing was said. When I went back in the kitchen after everyone else had gone to bed, all the doors were exactly as I had left them — wide open. Nobody even noticed. So I went around and closed them all with a sigh.

Do a little brainstorming. Think of all the habits you have inherited unconsciously from your family. Make a list. Once you see them written down, it will be apparent which ones are serving you and which ones are working against you. Those inherited habits that support your vision of yourself can be reinforced and made stronger by your deliberate intent. The habits that are in opposition to your personal vision of yourself can be more easily modified or eliminated once you focus your conscious attention on them.

“Habits…the only reason they persist is that they are offering some satisfaction…You allow them to persist by not seeking any other, better form of satisfying the same needs. Every habit, good or bad, is acquired and learned in the same way – by finding that it is a means of satisfaction.” – Juliene Berk

Personal Examples of the Different Kinds of Habits

1) Inherited Default Habit (Useful) — Like most of us, I learned the habit of brushing my teeth from my parents. When I was in my mid-twenties, I became friends with an excellent dentist. He taught me the value of proper brushing technique and flossing every day. I adopted his good habits, and haven’t missed a day in over 30 years. A few years later, I added two more steps to my routine. I learned the benefits of gum massage with an electric “Sonicare” toothbrush, as well as daily rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. This daily dental hygiene routine is a good example of a beneficial habit, originally inherited and later adapted (improved) to fit my specific objectives. It has been effective. I’ve never had a cavity and have no caps, crowns, root canals or anything else artificial in my mouth . . . and that’s rare for a 56 year old.

2) Inherited Default Habit (Destructive) — Both of my parents smoked the entire I lived at home, so it seemed only natural that I smoked too. (In fact, I was probably smoking the equivalent of a pack a day since birth, just from the second-hand smoke recirculating in our house.) I started the “first-hand” smoking habit at about 16 and continued until I was 25. That’s a long time, but fortunately I quit that nasty habit instead of mirroring my parents’ habit. They smoked into their 60’s.

3) New Habit (Chosen on Purpose) — About ten years ago, I realized how beneficial it would be to adopt a daily exercise routine. When I discovered “The Five Tibetans,” I recognized it as a good fit for my traveling lifestyle. It’s easy, quick, thorough and I can do it anywhere at any time with no special equipment, apparatus or specialized clothing. And it is effective. I have stayed strong and fit and have good muscle tone in those places where most people my age have become overweight, loose and flabby. This is an example of a new habit deliberately cultivated to produce a desired effect. (See a previous article, “5 Tibetan Rites — Easy Yoga for Busy People.”)

Do You Have Habits or Do Habits Have You?

Those habits that are deliberately chosen by you to support a particular objective or goal are habits you have. The other habits, the default ones that you inherited from others are habits that have you. You are in their grip, whether you know it or not. It’s up to you to show them who has the power. This can be done in three simple steps:

1) Make a list of your habits and identify them as either a default, inherited habit or a personally cultivated habit deliberately chosen to support your direction.

2) For all inherited habits, either modify them to fit who you are now and where you are going, or if it feels like a bad habit, replace it with a good habit that feels better. For all your inherited, good habits, how can you improve them to make them serve you better?

3) For all your deliberately chosen habits, revisit them from time to time and evaluate whether or not they need to be modified to better fit who you are now.

“Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.” – Nathaniel Emmons

The TV Habit

Watching television is another habit — one of the most insidious. We reach for the remote control like zombies. The same routine occurs almost every day at the same time. The TV flickers to life, while our life is put on hold. Instead of living a real life, we watch other people live a make-belief life, strategically concocted by network executives to increase their corporate bottom-line by convincing you to buy stuff you didn’t realize you needed . . . (and you probably don’t!)

The programming has little to do with your personal journey of personal development and nothing to do with the success you envision in your future. Since your TV time is not contributing to the attraction of your personal vision, it is working against you by filling your head with ideas and images that take you in every conceivable direction except the one you have deliberately chosen.

Granted, some of the programming can be inspiring and expose you to new people, places and possibilities, but few people are selective enough to actively choose the inspirational and avoid the detrimental. Instead, it’s all too common for the average viewer to be content watching whatever happens to come on next. If nothing good is on, they choose the best of the bad instead of turning the TV off.

Is it Relaxing? Really?

Is it Relaxing? Really?

A common defense of the TV addict goes something like this: “After a long day at work, I’m tired. I just want to relax and turn off my mind. Watching television is relaxing.” This is a habit of thought. Many of us are so hoodwinked by television, we have forgotten what is truly relaxing . . . a stroll after dinner, soft music and candlelight, a massage, meditation or curling up with a good book. What’s so relaxing about seeing all that violence and all that inane fluff on TV?

By the age of 14, the average American teenager has already witnessed over 12,000 simulated murders on TV. This number just represents the fatalities. They have also been up close and personal with untold episodes of televised violence of every description . . . all in the name of entertainment!

Is this really our collective idea of the proper images to pound into these young, receptive, formative minds? Is this the best we have to offer them, or are we just lazy, complacent and indifferent because we have been desensitized ourselves by tens of thousands of the same gory images? As a race, how did we evolve (or de-volve) to this point where we consider murder entertaining? Is this kind of personal psychic abuse really the method chosen by millions to “relax and turn off the mind?”

Yes, their thoughts are successfully drowned out by the bright colors, flashing lights and carnage of TV, but at what cost? If by relaxing, the average person means they enjoy their gray matter turning to pudding, the addictive drug of television is perfect.

But people like you, who read these articles, are not average. (In fact, calling you average would be an insult.) You are interested in personal development and living an inspired life. You probably watch far less TV than average and you are probably selective and use some of the technology now available to cherry-pick the programs and watch only the best of the best.

However, TV time is a black hole for most because it is such a common default habit. It’s good to review just how bad it has become in order to stay alert to the danger of this most pervasive habit.

A Default Habit Run Amuck

The average person, according to the most recent figures from Nielsen Media Research Inc., watches TV for 4 hours and 35 minutes every day. (I’ve read other research indicating we watch 6 hour per day.) Furthermore, according to Nielsen, the average household has a TV playing for 8 hours 15 minutes every day. Looking at the figures, let’s say the average American is “subjected to” TV about 6 hours per day, whether or not it has the viewer’s full attention. That is a huge chunk of time that could be used more productively. Let’s take a look at how much time this really is, and put it in perspective:

Six hours a day equals 42 hours per week. (That’s in the ballpark of an average work-week.) 42 hours per week equals about 175 hours per month, which equals 2100 hours per year. Six hours per day is one-fourth of a twenty-four hour day. So, the average American spends about one-quarter of all time available in their entire life (including sleep time) staring at the boob tube. After sixty years of allowing this habit to have its way with you, a full fifteen years of your life is gone . . . down the tube.

That’s a huge chunk of life, and only in the last few generations has it been an option to invest so much of one’s life energy vegetating in front of flickering images. Is it fulfilling? How much does it contribute to your quality of life? Is that good enough for you?

Imagine lying on your deathbed and saying, “Gee, I wish I would have watched more TV!”

Imagine what you could do with an extra fifteen years of life. Read a thousand books? Write a few of your own? Learn to play a musical instrument? Spend more quality time with family and friends? Start a new business? Enjoy the satisfaction of taking great strides in your own personal development and expansion of consciousness?

What’s important to you? Whatever it is, could you use an extra fifteen years to enjoy it?

Just One Hour a Day Adds Up

Quitting television cold-turkey is impractical for most people, but my own personal experience makes me recommend the “off” button anyway. (See a previous article, “The Trouble with TV.”)

You may be more comfortable weaning yourself away from the TV habit a little at a time. Begin by re-appropriating just one hour per day away from the TV. Let’s see how that adds up over time:

An hour per day is 7 hours per week, 30 hours per month, 365 hours per year. If you consider an average 40-hour work-week, turning off the TV for just one hour per day frees up over nine 40-hour work-weeks per year. That’s over two months of work-time available to be reinvested by “sacrificing” only one hour of boob-tube-time per day!

What to Do with All That Extra Time

Could you handle having extra time? Most of us are so busy, so frazzled and worn out from the pace of modern life, the prospect of all that free time seems too good to be true. How do you choose the best way to spend so much time?

Begin by examining what you’ve been telling yourself and others for years. Have you ever said this? “If I only had more time, I’d love to . . . (fill in the blank.)”

Choose something that brings you joy and personal satisfaction. You could choose to exercise more, take a college course or further your own personal education by reading more.

If you trade an hour of TV time for reading time, you could read a book per week, four per month, fifty-two per year. In twenty years, that’s over a thousand additional books that you didn’t realize you had time for. Imagine what a thousand books could do to help round out your knowledge on topics such as personal development, inspiration, success, motivation, health, fitness, awareness and spirituality.

Just in the area of success, if you read more books than the average person in your field and apply even a small percentage of what you learn, you’ll have a tremendous advantage. If knowledge is power, your new habit of re-appropriating an hour per day can pay off in powerful ways.

And what do you have to give up for all these benefits? You will be giving up only one hour of TV that you were probably only marginally interested in anyway! You’ll never miss it.

Real Relaxation

If you watch TV to “relax and turn off the mind,” just imagine what you could do with an hour per day deliberately invested on relaxation without TV getting in the way. Focus directly on deep relaxation and stilling the mind without all the harmful side effects of bombarding your subconscious mind with TV’s violent images. You’ll find it easier to de-stress with the TV off.

To experience deep, revitalizing relaxation, get comfortable and listen to music specifically created to help you enjoy peace and tranquility. Here’s a good place to start: “Celestial Sounds of Harmony and Light” and “Celestial Sounds Volume 2.” This music was created deliberately to help you calm your mind and relax your body. The mellow instruments, soothing harmonies and peaceful pace of approximately 60 beats per minute work wonders to help your heartbeat and breathing also calm down to 60 per minute. From this serene state, it’s easier to slip into the alpha state of consciousness where deep peace, increased vitality, spiritual revelations and personal healing occur. (For more details, see a previous article: “Benefits of Music for Personal Development.”)

For even deeper states, learn how to meditate . . . or take your meditations to new levels by trying new techniques. (See previous articles for details: “Simple Toning Meditation” and “Guided Meditation for Self-Healing and Personal Development.”)

If you have always considered TV as relaxing, and justified your TV-time as a tool to help you unwind, try this: As an experiment, substitute just one hour of TV-time with soothing music, meditation, or a combination of both. Try it for two weeks. Give it an honest test, and then take an unbiased inventory of your feelings. Which makes you feel more relaxed, peaceful, centered and energized? How did it affect your work-day? Which makes you feel better about yourself and your life? What gives you more joy? How do you feel?

Everyone wants to feel better, so why not try this one-hour-per-day test and evaluate your own results?

The Next Step

The one-hour-per-day approach is like baby steps. Once you experience the advantages of more deliberately choosing your habits and how to invest your time, you will likely be inspired to take off the training wheels and turn off the TV more often. Before long, you’ll notice you’ve developed new habits (on purpose). Remember both meanings of “on purpose:”

1) On purpose — deliberately, intentionally, consciously, knowingly, by design.

2) On purpose — in alignment with your personal sense of purpose, in sync with your chosen direction, in harmony with your current idea of living your life in such a way as to contribute the greatest good for the greatest number, and that includes you.

Your new habits will become good friends — trusted allies. Instead of inherited, default habits, these new habits will be ones you chose for yourself because they help take you where you want to go. Instead of reaching for the remote and hitting the “on” button, you’ll habitually hit the “off” button and pick up a good book. Whenever the TV is blaring and dominating your thoughts, your conversations, your life . . . you will enjoy the habit of picking up the remote, squeezing the power button and taking back your own personal power.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryan

The Good, the Bad and the Insidious

Habits are a fact of life. They can be good for you or bad for you. With growing awareness of the power of habits, you can recognize which is which. Then, you can deliberately transform the bad ones into whatever is good for YOU.

“Sow an act…reap a habit;
Sow a habit…reap a character;
Sow a character…reap a destiny.”
- George Dana Boardman

You are not forever stuck with the habits of others. Recognizing them for what they are is the important first step in reclaiming the moments of your life previously frittered away unconsciously. You have so little to lose and so much to gain by deliberately re-appropriating the moments of your life to support your personal vision of the future.

“Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable.” – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Turn off the TV and begin NOW. If you choose to reinvest your valuable time in personal development and inspiration, here’s a link to an inspiring list of books, any one of which can bring you more benefits and life-long dividends, compared to tonight’s episode of . . . (fill in the blank).

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the song samples below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Way of the World
Life is so huge . . . so diverse . . . the possibilities are literally infinite. What’s the best way to sort it all out and carve out a little niche of our own?

Trash Our Treasures
People seem to have a history of awarding seemingly insignificant details with places of prominence in our lives, while ignoring or even destroying the most important aspects.

A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
In the grand scheme of things, what’s the difference between a single moment and all of eternity? What’s the point of reference?

Time of Our Lives
Time is so fleeting, so elusive, it’s good to remember the importance and power of living right now.

Takin’ My Time
It’s easy to simply give away so much of your time that there’s none left for you.

Celebrate Life
Create your own personal celebration of life by your choices, rather than allowing life to be something that merely happens to you, or around you.

Do What You Love
Discovering what we have a true passion for, and then figuring out a way to build a life around that passion is one of life’s greatest feelings of accomplishment.

Fill o’ the Fair
This carnival of life is so rich and diverse, let’s squeeze every bit of happiness, joy, and delight as possible out of every single day.

You Gotta Have Fun
Our moments are fleeting . . . and finite. Too few to squander on "bad news". We must steer our attention deliberately in order to attract the kind of life we were born to live.

Songs by Tupelo

Related Links

Related Articles

The Trouble with TV
Does TV enhance our life experience or get in the way of living our lives? Celebrate life with this refreshing perspective on the boob tube.

Benefits of Music for Personal Development
All music is not created equally. This article takes a look behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of how the intent of the composer translates to the feeling evoked in the listeners. Many links are included to streaming mp3s. Celebrate life through music!

Simple Toning Meditation
When it comes to meditation and contemplation, all we really need is a simple technique that produces obvious results. Celebrate life through this easy method of calming the mind and getting in closer touch with your inner being.

Guided Meditation for Self-Healing and Personal Development
It’s helpful to have a helping hand once in awhile. I was fortunate to have friends show me how to meditate. It was just friends showing friends something cool . . . because they could. Or maybe it was some kind of big brother / big sister program for the spiritually ripe. It was easy. It was casual. It was a life-changing experience.

5 Tibetan Rites – Easy Yoga for Busy People
Everywhere you look, people seem to be too busy . . . too busy to take care of themselves and exercise. Here’s a quick solution that you won’t have to force yourself to do. In only 10 or 15 minutes per day, you can stretch your whole body (all muscle groups) and even help rev up your charkas (if you subscribe to that sort of thing). It’s fun, it makes you feel good and you can see the results.

Self-Discipline in 3 Easy Steps
Why is it so difficult to follow through and accomplish what you set out to do? Usually, there is one important missing ingredient: personal discipline. For most of us, the idea of discipline is an external force – it’s something that comes from the outside. For instance, we discipline our children. Most of us are familiar with discipline as a verb (something we do to someone else), but we’re not so familiar with the concept as a noun – something we cultivate from within and apply to ourselves.

Enhance Your Self-Image on Purpose
Here are twelve common sense reminders on how to inspire yourself. The word “inspire” derives from root words that mean “in spirit” or “spirit within.” Although there’s always another step to take, these points are a natural result of recognizing and identifying with this realization of who we really are.

Inspire Yourself on Purpose – Inspiration from Inside Out
Here are twelve common sense reminders on how to inspire yourself. The word “inspire” derives from root words that mean “in spirit” or “spirit within.” Although there’s always another step to take, these points are a natural result of recognizing and identifying with this realization of who we really are.

Choose Excellence and Lose Mediocrity
What if you knew that a life of excellence was lurking right around the corner, if you would only prioritize your moments in such a way so that you could recognize it. Take an objective look at the various activities of your life. Get inspired to lose the mediocre to make room for something better.

Methods as Temporary Tools Instead of Lifetime Crutches
We are obsessed with our methods. We become attached to our particular way of doing things. The trouble comes when we cling to an old method that we have outgrown. We feel bogged down and then stuck when our personal development potential is being limited by an outdated method. If your method feels more like a crutch than a tool, it’s time to take an objective look at it. Is the method in question bringing you peace and joy? Is it helping your personal growth, or is it just a familiar and comfortable habit of thought?

Integrity Through Self-Reliance
When you live your life as if the whisperings from your soul really matter, you are living life in your own way, on your own terms, based on your own realizations on what is right . . . what is good . . . and what is true for you. You are tuned into your own station. The signal you are receiving and the message you are broadcasting with the story of your life are both on the same frequency. You are joyfully and gratefully choosing your favorites from the buffet of life.

Spiritually Thriving Through Choice
As we go through the motions of life, eventually it becomes apparent that what we have to do to get by needs to be balanced with our deep longing to thrive spiritually. Our activities need to be undertaken consciously. Our choices need to be made deliberately – with full awareness of the potential consequences as well as the potential rewards.

The Power of Beginning
The most important part of any project is the beginning. Just begin and follow through and you will be amazed at the momentum. . The creative power of the universe responds by lining up the details to bring it into manifestation. Coincidences begin to occur. Your job is to choose and then begin.

Articles by Tupelo

This is the end of the article entitled Trade TV Time for Habits of Personal Development and Success published by Tupelo Kenyon on March 28, 2008 at 5:00 am | In Awareness, Discipline, Manifestation, Productivity, Self-Image - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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