Thursday, January 16, 2014

Would you like to have two extra months in 2014?

Seems hard to believe, but many people could have an extra 2 months in 2014 and every other year. How? By reducing the amount of time they watch television. I made this commitment for 2014 simply because it felt like a good thing to do, but when I actually looked at some statistics and negative effects of television, I was blown away and knew I had to explore this further.

Did you know that the average American spends over five hours every day watching TV? That’s over two months a year, nine years in a lifetime! Wow. I am quite sure it’s pretty similar in the rest of the Western world… Statistics also show that 54% of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television. Yikes! And did you also know that watching television makes us more passive, fat and materialistic? Oh oh... (You can see more about this in a great article here).

Now I don’t want to make this post all about how evil television is, because it does have positives as well (a good documentary can facilitate learning, a talent show may inspire us to share our talents with the world, it can be relaxing to watch our favorite show or exciting to watch our favorite teams play….), but because this is a post about reducing TV time, I will focus more an a couple of the negatives I find most important.

First of all, television programming shapes our minds much more than we think. For example, in a movie or TV show, something is always happening, the action sequences are fast, there are virtually no breaks. In fact, it has been proven that movie shots are getting shorter, as prior to the 1960s, the average shot length was 8-11 seconds, but now it is something like 4-6 seconds. This results in us subconsciously believing that our lives should also take place at this pace, and when they don’t, we start thinking something is wrong. And we get restless, rob ourselves of valuable rest and contemplation time, etc. Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn likes to say that as a species we are increasingly turning from “human beings” into “human doings,” and I believe television is a big reason for this.

Second, and this goes hand-in-hand with the first one, television negatively affects our view of the world. Think of all the violence we see, or of all the negative stories on the news. Instead of seeing the world as a friendly place full of people who want to help us (see previous post :-), we start seeing the world as a dangerous place where people and nature need to be feared. Steve Chandler, the author of the excellent “100 Ways To Motivate Yourself,” says the following in his book:

If we realized exactly how much vulgar, pessimistic, and manipulative negativity was deliberately packed into every daily newspaper and most television shows and Hollywood movies, we would resist the temptation to flood our brains with their garbage. Most of us are more particular about what we put in our automobile’s gas tank than we are about what we put in our own brain every night. We passively feed ourselves with stories about serial killers and violent crime without any conscious awareness of the choice we’re making.


And third, television (and newspapers and the Internet…) robs us of time we could spend much more positively. Think of all the things you could do with an extra one to two hours per day: get more sleep, read or write a book, exercise, talk with family or friends, cook a healthy meal. The list is endless. And think how much better you’d feel after one of those activities.

So now that we’ve pointed out some good reasons to reduce TV time, let’s talk about the best ways to actually accomplish that. As with most things, I am a big believer in starting small, in baby steps. I would start by making a review of all the programs you watch and making a list of the reasons you watch particular programs and the benefits and negatives they bring. Then try a week or two without one or two programs at the bottom of your list, and replace the time with a positive activity of your choice. And simply see where this takes you.
So as 2014 is off to a roaring start, let’s get more conscious about the content we allow into our lives, let’s cut down on television a bit, and let’s fill this newly found time with positive activities!


PS: While doing a bit of research for this post, I came across some funny or inspiring TV related quotes that I thought I’d share here as well:

Television is a medium because anything well done is rare.
Fred Allen

If you’re watching too much television and you know it, you might find it useful to ask this one question: “Which side of the glass do I want to live on?”
Steve Chandler

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Grouch Marx

In Beverly Hills... they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows.
Woody Allen

Thursday, January 9, 2014

British man becomes first person to visit all 201 countries... WITHOUT using a plane

Wow, what amazing inspiration! And what a great quote by the man himself, Graham Hughes, age 33: 

"I think I wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you." -- BEAUTIFUL!!!

Btw, still think your 2014 resolutions are hard to keep? :-)

Read the whole story in the Daily Mail Online here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are you being too positive?

The New York times recently ran a great thought provoking article called The Positive Power of Negative Thinking, which I noticed thanks to Dan Millman's sharing it on Facebook. I found many of the article's key points very consistent with my experience and findings on my journey, some of which I've tried to share via previous articles on this blog (ideas such as "goal setting is not always a good thing" or "a healthy person is angry 10% of waking hours, sad 10% of waking hours and generally happy/satisfied the rest of the time"). The article also challenges the effectiveness of affirmations, which is something that I intend to write about soon as well (for the record, I am not a big fan of positive affirmations because they "treat" the surface - I much more prefer a method such as Dynamind, which I've also written about, because it goes deeper towards the roots). But the thing I like most about the article is that it encourages us to see things not positively (or negatively), but to see them as they really are. And that's what I believe should be one of the main goals of the "journey towards happiness".

Monday, June 11, 2012

Did you know that you can live this life twice?!?

Recently I took a walk through the center of Prague, and in the Kampa area, close to the medieval Charles Bridge, I came across a monument that Prague firefighters built for the firefighters that lost their lives in New York in 2001. And the motto that is written on the monument goes something like this:

"A firefighter is a person who lives in this world twice: once for himself and once for others. And that is why a firefighter's life is the right example for the proper understanding of the human life."

Isn't that awesome??? That we can actually live this life twice?!? I am sure that firefighters won't mind if we take this concept as applicable for all people who engage in service to others. I really think that this is getting just about as close as we can get to the essence of life itself. So, let's all of us live this life twice! And as a bonus, I am sure that our personal happiness will soar sky high as a side-effect!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turn right for enlightenment | OdeWire

Another great article from OdeWire, where the findings are absolutely consistent with what I believe as a result of my journey... Roy Martina suggests hypnosis as a way to access the subconscious, I propose holotropic breathwork as another...

Turn right for enlightenment | OdeWire

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

As a spiritual but non-religious person, I do not come across prayers too often. But recently in one intensive personal and spiritual development session we worked with a prayer that I found absolutely beautiful and an almost perfect summary of what the spiritual path (and a life based on joy and happiness) should be all about. So I would like to share the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi below.

And as long as I am writing on the subject of prayer, I would also like to offer a tip to those who have a resistance to prayers (as I did and sometimes still do): Instead of thinking "prayer", think "speaking from the heart to the creator, a higher source or to something that transcends us". You may find that such a shift may release tremendous energy and joy deep from your heart. Also, try experimenting with creating your own prayers or "speeches from the heart to a higher source", according to your wishes and needs at the time.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen