How I Overcame TV Addiction, Reclaimed My Life and Gained Two Months Per Year

Also see: 21 Motivational Quotes to Help You Overcome Your TV Addiction.

Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they’d spent more time watching television. Life is short, and there are too many things that are more important and fulfilling than sitting in front of a television for hours on end. That’s not to suggest you should stop watching TV altogether, but I’ve come to see it as something best placed at the edge of life, rather than the center.

I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, there was a time in my life when I wasted nearly six hours of my day watching television. As evening rolled around, I’d plant myself on the couch, turn on the television and vegetate till I fell asleep near midnight. Eight hours later, I’d wake up with the TV still on, feeling no more rested than when I went to sleep.

When you do the math, it’s rather shocking. Six hours per day adds up to 2190 hours over the course of a year, which equates to 91 days. THREE MONTHS! per year. Sitting in front of a television. Hypnotized. Tuned in, but zoned out. Living in a make-believe world while the real world passed me by.

“In its easy provision of relaxation and escape, television can be beneficial in limited doses. Yet when the habit interferes with the ability to grow, to learn new things, to lead an active life, then it does constitute a kind of dependence and should be taken seriously.”

From “Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor”
— By Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi —

Coming to Terms With My TV Addiction

Although I failed to recognize it at the time, it’s clear now that watching television had become a full-blown addiction for me. An escape mechanism that I used to distract myself from the problems, fears and challenges I was refusing to deal with in my life.

I used television to distract myself from the shame, embarrassment and stress I felt about some irresponsible financial decisions and their resulting fallout. I used it to avoid facing my fear of stepping out into the world more fully, connecting with others and pursuing the higher purpose to which my soul was being called. I used it to cope with boredom and fill the void of an otherwise empty life.

In short, my life was a mess, my self-esteem was shot, and while TV may have provided a short-term escape from that reality, it ultimately kept me locked within it. Said another way, instead of using my time and energy to deal with my problems and improve my life, I was wasting it on television.

“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

— Mary Oliver —

First Steps on My Journey to Recovery

Fortunately, I met Ellen, my life partner for the last several years. When I met her, she didn’t even own a television. This puzzled me. What does she do for entertainment, I wondered. Doesn’t she get bored? How can she stand the silence? I didn’t ask her those questions directly, because I didn’t really care. In fact, on a deeper level, I respected and envied her for that choice.

In Ellen, I saw a person living a mindful, purposeful life that revolved around the things that matter most – her health and well-being; her family, friends and community; and her life’s work as a Yoga Therapist. In her, I saw a potential life-partner, and an inspiring example of the kind of person I wanted to be and the type of life I wanted to live.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank the Universe for bringing Ellen into my life. She provided the inspiration, encouragement and support to help me see beyond the challenging circumstances of my life at the time. Besides the inspiring example of how she was living her life, I remember an article she published for her Yoga students, in which she wrote:

“Where do you see yourself in five years, one year, one week, or one day? This can be a difficult question to answer, but it is imperative that you hold vision for your life. Without vision, your life shifts into idle.

“When you have an idea or vision for what you want to manifest in life, the wheels are set in motion. It is as if you’ve shifted out of ‘park’ and into fast forward. All your thinking, creativity, active and passive energy begins to consciously and unconsciously direct itself toward that which you want to create.

“It is really quite simple. Without a vision nothing happens. There is nowhere to direct your thoughts or energy. Without a vision, growth and movement comes to a halt. With vision, life becomes a course of ongoing expansion, opening doors to infinite possibility.”

Ellen Shaeffer

I remember that article, because it described my life so perfectly at the time. I had no vision for the future. I was locked in my misery, and my life had essentially come to a halt.

How I Conquered TV Addiction

Soon after I read Ellen’s article, I sat down and wrote out an inspiring vision for the life I wanted to live and the person I wanted to be. As you might imagine, my vision didn’t include watching six hours of television every day.

Still, my addiction was well-established. So, while my heartfelt vision statement was a great place to start, I knew it was going to take more than words on a page to begin turning that vision into reality. Here are several things that worked for me.

1. Monitor and Track How Much Time You Waste on TV

“You cannot manage or improve something until you measure it. Likewise, you can’t make the most of who you are – your talents and resources and capabilities – until you are aware of and accountable for your actions.”

From The Compound Effect
— Darren Hardy —

When I first started on the road to recovery, I kept a daily, written log to document the number of hours I spent watching television each day. This helped me see exactly how much of my life I was wasting. It also helped me see where I could eliminate some TV time and replace it with more purposeful activities.

At the time, it was a revelation to realize I could turn off the TV at 9pm instead of midnight, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up at 4am. This freed up a good 3-4 hours in the morning that I could use however I wanted. I still live by this schedule, and my early-morning time is the most productive and creative part of my day.

2. Develop a Sense of Purpose and Mission for Your Life

“Human beings are teleological creatures. We are hard-wired to live purposively, to have direction. Without a target to shoot at, our lives are literally aimless. Without something productive to do, without positive goals and a purpose, a human being languishes. And then one of two things happens. Aimlessness begins to shut a person down in spiritual lethargy and emptiness, or the individual lashes out and turns to destructive goals just to make something happen.”

From The Art of Achievement
— Tom Morris —

Besides my ever-deepening relationship with Ellen, the thing that’s been most critical to my recovery is the deep sense of purpose and mission I’ve developed about my life. When you feel this deep sense of purpose and that you have a mission in life, it’s much easier to let go of anything that distracts or takes time away from it.

For me, purpose is about working each day to become the best human being I can be. It’s about cultivating and strengthening the values that are most important to me – peace, love, creativity, excellence, perseverance and service. Life purpose, for me, is more about being and becoming, rather than doing.

Mission, on the other hand, is about doing; it’s about using my time, energy, skills and other resources to serve the world. Specifically, my mission is to help you – and others like to you – create a happier, healthier, more prosperous life through my writing, teaching and coaching.

This deserves repeating – when you feel a profound sense of purpose and mission in your life, you don’t want to waste your time and energy on television. Instead, you’re driven to use your resources wisely, and in service to that purpose and mission.

3. Realize That Television is Stealing Your Life

“Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.”

— Gretchin Rubin, Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit.

As I said at the beginning, I believe there’s a small place for television in life. Very small though, because when you really think about it, aside from some short-term relaxation and entertainment value, what do you get out of it?

If you watch 3 hours of TV tonight, will you be any happier tomorrow? Will you have more friends or more love in your life? Will you be any smarter? Will you be any healthier or wealthier? If you watch 3 hours of TV tonight, will it improve your life in any way tomorrow?

To paraphrase author Annie Dillard, how you spend your days is how you spend your life. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to wake up many years down the road and realize I’d wasted much of my life watching TV.

4. Find Alternatives to Watching Television

“Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing – too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic and that the heart is unfulfilled.”

From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
— Stephen Covey —

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. With nothing else to do with my time, it was far too easy to get pulled toward watching television. Certainly, there’s something to be said for cultivating the ability to simply sit in silence with only your thoughts, but that only goes so far. I had to find other ways to use my time.

When I’m not working or spending time with Ellen, I read a good book or write in my journal. In fact, that’s how I spend my early-morning hours. Back when I started on my recovery, I created a morning writing ritual known as Morning Pages. This is the writing practice made popular by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. I pour myself a hot cup of coffee, sit down at my desk and write in the early-morning silence.

You don’t have to spend your free time reading or writing, although a daily journaling practice might do wonders for you. You can use your free time however you like.

  • Watch some excellent personal development classes online.
  • Get outdoors and go for a hike.
  • Take up drawing, painting, dancing or some other creative activity.
  • Start an online business or launch a new blog.
  • Find some Meetup groups to join or start one of your own.
  • Clean out those closets or the basement, and sell or donate everything you no longer need.

Go to bed earlier. This probably isn’t a valid alternative if it’s the middle of the day. But if it’s 8:00 in the evening, and you have nothing else to do, instead of watching TV, why not just go to bed. Throw on the jammies, brush your teeth, grab a good book and head for the bedroom. You can make it a nice little pre-slumber ritual that, in time, you’ll come to love and look forward to. You’ll sleep better and wake up earlier, feeling fresh and ready for the day ahead.

The alternatives to watching television are limited only by your imagination and willingness to move out of your comfort zone.

5. Exercise Consistently

In her book, The Willpower Instinct, Dr. Kelly McGonigal calls physical exercise “the closest thing to a wonder drug that self-control scientists have discovered.” Why, because multiple research studies have shown that when people begin exercising more consistently, other areas of their life improve as well. Exercisers tend to reduce their smoking, drinking and caffeine intake. They eat less junk food and more healthy food. They spend less time watching television and more time on productive activities. They save more money, feel more in control of their emotions and procrastinate less.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg calls exercise a “keystone habit” that triggers widespread change in our life. I can attest to this. One of the first steps I took on my road to recovery was to re-initiate my exercise routine, and I’ve managed to stay consistent with it for the past several years. I don’t do it every day, but often enough that it’s an integral part of living a healthier, happier, more productive life.

The Journey Continues

I still watch television, but I’ve created a healthy relationship with it. Instead of wasting six hours per day, as I did at the height of my addiction, Ellen and I now watch less than 10 hours per week. And since we don’t own a television, we only watch movies on DVD or from an online service, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Effectively, that means I’ve gained 32 hours per week, which works out to roughly two months per year. Think of what you could do with an extra two months per year.

Of course, life still has its problems and challenges. Its ups and downs. That’s just how life is. The difference now is that, rather than medicate myself with television, I find healthier, more purposeful ways to invest my time and energy.

There are 244 brilliant comments

  1. I’m addicted to TV. I’ve ovcome past addictions. I know that getting rid of TV is for the best, I was without TV for 5+ years, but now I’m in a quagmire. You see, my love-in partner bought a huge TV a few years ago. He plays video games, but not for hours on end. It brings him joy and laughter, he connects with people via gaming(we do not go out), and it’s also allows him to wind down from the stress of work at end of night.
    How do I ask this of him? He says he’s willing to get ride of it(b/c I told him that unplugging it will not solve the problem, I will just plug it back in), but I hate to take that away from him, plus he spend big $ on it.

    1. He says he is willing to get rid of it. What an awesome, supportive partner! Receive his gift of love and support, and know that you are worth the sacrifice😊!

  2. Dear Michael, thank you so much for this superb article. It hit the nail on the head with how I’ve been feeling and thinking of late. I notice that on average I watch 2 hrs of TV almost every night. With so many quality shows being released, TV has become the easy and lazy choice for the way I spend my evenings. For me, it’s a form of escape from all the things I know I could be doing that would significantly improve my life and take it in a whole other positive direction. All the quotes resonated with me and I’m going to start this weekend by carving out my vision. Next, for the entire month of May, I will keep my TV switched off. It’s good to get uncomfortable… that’s where the magic lies I’m told 🙂 Thank you again and all the best!

  3. literally, it was a life-saving article for me. I have been a TV- addict from my childhood and I never thought about its bad effects on life, but somehow when I came to your blog( one of my friends recommended your post), I realize I have wasted a big part of my life and it’s time to stop this. I followed your tips and they were really helpful for getting out form this addiction. Thank you so much.

  4. Michaels recovery stemmed from meeting Ellen. He had a safety network with her giving him the motivation to get over his addiction.

    What does the person with no emotional support nor to do things other but don’t have the motivation to do nothing but because watch TV ?

    1. I’d try to go out or do activities I enjoy in group! Meet new people with the hope of slowly building this safety network myself

    2. Go out for a walk. A walk makes me feels “awake” because I feel like I am actually sleeping/ a living corpse/ soulless meatball when I am watching TV or Youtube. I think a lot during the walk: I waste too much time on Youtube, I should start learn programing, I should keep praticing piano……since there is no TV around you and there is nothing you can do except thinking. I always find myself a lot of goals and plans even in a short one-hour walk, and desire of watching Youtube become lower after walk. I am not get rid of my addiction yet, but at least this is one way to deal with it.

    3. You don’t have to go out. My most vivid memories are of the years when I had no TV before Youtube existed. I remember the songs of birds I had never notjced, the creative ideas I had, the curiosity to learn new things. Then along came Youtube, and this is more invasive because it’s readily available for free on any web browser. So I’m doing the opposite of all advice here, I’m spending less time with others and going into solitude with music and knitting and talking with God about my favorite subject, me. I look at it as a transformative journey, and I have to go it alone.

  5. I’m not sure how I came about your article, but I’m very glad I did. I’m not addicted to TV, but I waste time in an evening just looking at crap on my phone, or the iPad and sometimes TV/YouTube.

    Your article is a reminder to switch it off more often, and it’s so true about exercise. I used to do intense Bootcamp style training a few years ago for 3 times each week, and managed to land a great job, that I still have because I was more focused and alert than I am now.

    My career has slowed down because I’ve been so less active and I’ve taken my foot off of the accelerator, and started wasting time.

    Thank you for this post. It was much needed, I’m booking myself back into the Bootcamp I enjoyed so much.

  6. There is hope if you are struggling with this addiction!

    I recently joined a 12 step fellowship (like Alcoholics Anonymous) for internet addiction, it’s a broader fellowship for people who struggle with compulsive internet and technology use, including binge watching. Many members are TV addicts like me and you. I joined three months ago and I have been completely and utterly blown away with the positive results I am seeing in my life every day. TV, movies and streaming ruled my life for years and years. I couldn’t imagine giving it up for even one evening – my body went into panic mode just thinking of it. I really tried absolutely every method of self-control to use TV in moderation. It simply wasn’t possible for me to stop once a started and once I did stop, I couldn’t *stay* stopped. Finding this fellowship is the *only* thing that has been able to drag me up from the depths. Today I’m so grateful to say I have only had one binge in three months. I’m learning how to become the person I always wanted to be and to do all the things I always wanted to do. I’m not religious and I feel really cheesy writing this but now I’m starting to understand why people use the word ‘miracle’ – so many things I thought would never be possible for me are now within my reach.

    We have online meetings every day (at the time I’m writing), why not check out one meeting just to see what it’s all about? It’s totally free and nobody will force you to do anything at all – you can even just sit and listen if you want.

    If you take one thing away from this message please hear this: you are not alone. There is hope!

  7. This is a great general advice for all kinds of addiction, TV/Internet/Social media addictions included.

  8. Thank you for this article, Michael, and thank you every one else who has shared their experiences here in the comments. I have seen many stories like my own here, and it has inspired me to share my thoughts as well.
    I am turning 30 tomorrow. I have spent most of my 20s alone, and am still waiting for right person to spend my life with. I cannot say that my adult life has been without achievement; I am about to receive my Masters in Education and I have many dear friends in my life.
    The problems come when I have to stand still. I have ADHD, and my thoughts spiral and shift unendingly. Simply being at rest is stressful to me. TV is how I turn my brain off. The last 5 years, you were as likely to find me alone staring at the screen on a Friday or Saturday night as anywhere else. When the rest of my life- job, school, music performances- keeps me running all day, this time is a refuge. I’m pretty introverted, and enjoy this recharge time in the evenings. But it eats whole weekends, most days off, all the time that I don’t absolutely have to be somewhere.
    I was laid off in April as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, and ever since I’ve been watching more and more. I should wake up and work on my classes or my thesis, but instead I open up Hulu or Netflix- just for one show as I get going. Just one, or maybe two. Soon the day is gone, and I’ve done nothing.
    On the days when I can resist, I feel amazing- productive, energetic, coordinated and on top of things. There are some days when I can even manage some TV and still get things done, but I’ve lost weeks to the tube.
    After reading this article, I sat down and built a method for checking myself and stopping my spiral of sloth. Whenever I look at the time, I ask myself 4 questions:

    Are you Creating?
    Are you Sharing?
    Are you Learning?
    Are you Managing?

    If I can’t answer yes to any of these, then I need to do something else. Right now, I’m creating this post, and sharing it with anyone who might read it. After this, I will manage my health by brushing my teeth. I’ll probably share some time with a friend on the phone before I go to bed. I’ll read a book, and create a whole world from the words on the page.
    If I find myself watching TV, I am not creating. I’m not sharing. I’m not managing my life. I might be learning- documentaries or how-tos . If I want to watch something purely entertaining, I’ll have to find someone to share it with. Otherwise, I’d better find something else to do.
    I hope this is something I can stick to. I don’t want to waste the next 10 years like I did the last 10.

  9. I watch movies on my laptop for hours on end. Am in campus now and have felt that it’s interfering with my studies. It takes up all my study time and before I know it the semester is over and another begins almost failing all units. I just feel like time is rushing and nothing is happening in my life except fantasizing what I see in movies(healthy relationships, vacations, a lot of friends, creativity, making an impact in the world…).

    I currently feel so empty and have none of those. It has become my hideout from life. I feel alone, i don’t interact with people a lot and this has took away almost all my self esteem, ability to communicate with people and all of my social life. I have these big plans and ideas in my mind but always gets carried away by movies looking for a “high point” and filling a void which never gets filled.

    Under the current coronavirus crisis schools have been closed and find myself watching up to 20 hours a day even struggling to get time to sleep or cook for myself. I feel that I finally need to have a control of my life again and become a better person and this article has just given me a starting point. I am so grateful for this article.

    1. Lev, i dont want give some catchy quote that makes sense. Rather I would say just try harder every day and know that you are not alone

    2. Hi Lev, I really feel like I get what you are going though. I’ve always been addicted to tv/ netflix series. Unlike other people who watch cartoons and science fiction to relax, I watch ‘realistic’ movies and series to escape into a different reality. The confronting thing is that my younger sister is living the kind of life I see in those movies. This makes it so painful knowing that I could’ve had that if I hadn’t chosen to take the easy way, but instead living life to the fullest like her. My entire family and a lot of my friends I feel are like this, very succesfull and living a truthfull life. I don’t get why I am how I am. I feel so messed up and fake.

  10. Thank the universe that you met Ellen, and that you were so inspired that you made a commitment to overcome your TV addiction. Thank you for stepping away from TV and moving into your purpose and mission. I appreciate you honesty and your skill as a writer to break down the process in a way that is clear and concise and easy to understand.

    I was sitting here watching yet another TV show that I had little interest in, and this was after mindlessly watching TV all day, frustrated, I did a google search for overcoming TV addiction and your blog popped up. I was reading y our blog while the show was still running. Midway through reading your post, I turned off the TV and felt a sense of peace immediately and finished reading.

    For many years I had no TV and loved it. I was a holistic healer, painter, sculptor, and writer and then I began losing my vision. I returned to school to get my MS in counseling to blend with my holistic healing work. Which is what I currently do. However, when I am not working, I use, no, I have used my loss of vision and a stroke that I had 7 months ago as an excuse to be passively engaged with life my purpose and my mission. Can you tell how inspired I am? You have given me what I give to my clients every day ~ hope and a plan of action!

    Thank you Michael and Ellen. I have subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more. I also look forward to going to bed and getting up early and tomorrow, beginning a new chapter in my life; actually it begins right now!

  11. Thank you for this.
    TV is really just a big waste of my time.
    It used to be in small doses as I had a lot of things to do, However as I am now not working it just came to be my default “activity” and consumed my life.
    Your words really resonated and I see how it’s going to make a big impact on my life.
    Can’t wait for living my life’s potential.

  12. Thank you soo much for sharing. I didn’t even know this was an actual addiction until I came across this article. I have known for a while that a problem, I just never thought if not as an addiction! I have let TV and Netflix steal my life and my joy. Instead of thinking about my future and trying to make my life better I have been trying to live vicariously through the people I watch daily. It’s crazy. It’s even more sad because I know I have the potential to live an excellent & fulfilled life. My life is a mess. I need help!
    Thanks for the article. Is there an online support group I can join?

  13. Thank you for this article. TV has stolen my husband’s life. It has turned our marriage into a mess. It has ruined us financially. I don’t even know how to turn the TV on and my husband can’t stay away from it.

  14. My TV broke down last Saturday and rather than fix it, I decided to try going without it to see what would happen. I’ve been aware for a couple of years that I rely on TV watching for company (I live alone, and am an introvert) and that I will have it on for 6’to 8 hours most evenings. So I kind of suspected I was addicted to it. It’s been very peaceful at night with out it, which is a nice surprise. But today I felt exhausted, like I’ve been hit by a truck. And I’m wondering if giving up an addiction, even if it’s not to a substance, can give a person physical symptoms? Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

  15. Great article, I found it very well put together and touched on some very similar thoughts I have been having lately. I only just came to the realisation that I was wasting my time and I should treat it as an addiction. Considering how much time I have dedicated to my problem over the last 5 years I suspect it will be difficult for me to break the cycle. Hopefully recognising the problem and the adverse effects it has on my life will get me on the right path, and articles like this will help keep me in line.
    Thank you.

  16. Loved your article. I googled on TV addiction as my husband is completely addicted to TV. He still doesn’t think it’s a problem. He says what else will I do if not TV.
    It’s almost been an year we got married, before marriage I did not have a TV. I still had my laptop on which I used to watch a few series, but that’s about it.
    I came here after wedding and realise that the TV was perpetually on at all the times of the day. He wakes up at 6 am and I wake up at 6:30 am. By the time I reach the living room, the TV used to be on. And before going to bed in the bedroom as well. After a few months of fighting I finally was able to convince him to never put it on in the bedroom at least. Before me moving in, the TV used to be on the entire night, if he used to wake up from his sleep, he used to put it on (thankfully that has stopped after a lot of our fights).
    He still watches videos on his mobile for a few minutes and then he finally asks me if I want to sleep. If I say yes I would like to sleep now, he take out his air pods, puts either friends (the series) or any other series and flip over the phone screen so that the light doesn’t disturb my sleep.
    This goes worse- even in the toilet when he’s taking a dump or he’s taking a shower, some or the other video or series in playing on his cellphone.

    Honestly, after an year of watching this and fighting over it almost every two weeks, I have given up. I feel it’s his life, what can I do if doesn’t understand. I literally wonder how can someone watch so much of tv/Netflix/amazon prime or whatever. I watch 2 episodes back to back and feel unproductive.

    I don’t know if you’d even reply. But it felt good to just type all this down.


  17. I am in the same phase now. Every time I am home I always end up starting Netflix and spending hours every day. It’s like Netflix is my hideout from the rest of the world and problems. Instead of facing and solving problems, I spend an awful lot of time on movies and end up feeling even more miserable.
    Recently I started reading some blogs, and have been trying to improve my habits and stay focused on my goals. Your blog definitely gave me a kick I needed. Thank you.
    I have long wanted to start my blog and write my thoughts. I will start now.

  18. Where and who do I want to be in 5 years? Bahaha I’ve been asking myself this same question my entire life! I’m stuck unable to progress because I still don’t know this answer. I’ve always wanted to make a huge impact on the world! I never thought I would be 40 and still have no clue what my calling in life was or even have a clue what my ideal life looks like. Sadly now it just feels too late. 40 is old, my life is practically over.

    I enjoyed your article, it made me think I could definitely be doing more if I stop escaping through tv. I should be actively looking and finding ways to serve the greater good. I may die never finding my calling in life but at least my offspring will have memories of me actively searching and serving.

    1. “40 is old, my life is practically over…”


      You’re not alone. about 3 out of 4 people are in your same boat. But a little story of hope,..

      My fiancee’s father was 47 when he retired from teaching and found his passion in financial planning. Over the past 20 years, he and his wife have built a financial planning practice together…but 20 years ago, they never imagined they would have had the success and well-being.

      Now, at 67, with the ability to retire comfortably, he continues to grow his book of business because he loves rising to the challenge and taking care of his people.

      So when you say, your life is practically over, I hope you find some comfort knowing that you still have a few years to be able to really dig in and identify what is it you want.

      Me, I just turned 30 and do web design & marketing for a small book of clients I gathered over the past two years. My living arrangement right now is a small studio apartment, and the only seating is a futon directly facing the TV.

      Most nights I stay up until 2a making mediocre progress at best as I play some show or movie in the background. But most of the time, I’m bouncing between the story line and what I’m doing, and what takes me 20 minutes at deep focus, takes me 2-3 hours. Since I don’t bill hourly, I make the excuse that it’s not hurting my clients…but really, it only harms me, and the ones I love because of it.

    2. The best way to find out what your God given talents are is serving others. You should try different things and eventually one of them will feel like, “Man I’m really good and this and I love doing it! I want to know everything about this.” That’s usually your talent/purpose. It usually starts as something that seems superficial but there are ways to use it on a deeper level. Hope that helps 🙂

    3. Hi I can relate but I’m 61! ( I don’t look it). I’ve got a masters in social work to help people, accomplished things. But when too many obstacles happen I get ashamed and disappear. I’ve been very creative in my life but didint continue once someone criticized me, especially people I cared about. I know I was supposed to push through but it wore me down. without letting people in to inspire me to go on I lost my drive. Change and pursuing your passion is risky. We gravitate to being safe but that’s how we miss out. I have things that happened to me that influenced that. I suffer from PTSD. No excuse I had no compassion for myself. I still have created something over the past 3 years to serve the creative community. I struggled to show up . But I did. I was appreciated but It started to feel I’m doing it all for others like a slave. The pandemic gave me relief honestly .I haven’t taken time off in three years. It has given me time to rest and think about what I want. I regret NOT continuing things I loved because I decided I wasn’t good enough only to see others “not as good “ as me out there confidently. . I’ve been hiding out. I am taking care of things and getting out but the anxiety overwhelms me. I think about the negative. For months watching a lot of TV, and YouTube videos saving so many! I help my son and husband . We have some good times but they really judge me harshly for my escaping. It’s a protective mechanism. Its frustrating to people who can’t relate.
      A new opportunity to do something creative is coming from my years of devotion. I can see how I could be successful and happy doing this. I have to put myself out there. Is it too late to have a new purpose and be happy? Forget age. What will make you feel joy and give to others? Do it with out reservation. I always start out that way. This is an opportunity to turn off the TV and focus on life. This time I’m going to respond to some of the people I’ve met who show they care about me. One day at a time. So 40? Age is just a number. I wish I was 40 again. I did enjoy the time. House in the Hamptons. But I still kept more aloof. I can step up now and create anew. You can too.🙏🏻

      1. Dear Janet,
        I just read this sharing from you and want to thank you for everything that you have written. It is so inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for your generosity and all the very best!

  19. Overcoming TV addiction is rather easy – you simply take the TV and get rid of it. (That worked for me, I put it into the attic and forgot about it). You won’t miss it (for long). But TV addiction is so 20th century – Internet is the new TV.

    I use the Internet to distract myself, cope with boredom, to avoid facing my fear of stepping out into the world, connecting with others.

    While the Internet may provide a short term escape from reality it ultimately uses my time and energy to deal with my problems and improve my life, which I am wasting on the Internet.

    However, unlike the simple task of getting rid of TV living an offline life is a rather difficult task to accomplish. Have you ever tried booking a flight offline? Order some widget related to your obscure hobby? An Uber? Dating? Getting rid of something (craigslist? If you put it in the classifieds you won’t get a call, even if you give it away for free)

    Since everyone and everything is online (and expects you to be online as a matter of course), leading an offline life is (unfortunately) not a real possibility in a modern world.

    Being offline is not an option, but whenever I am online I start wasting my time…wasting a little to unwind would be fine, but just like TV used to the Internet sucks me in instantly and I will not complete the task(s) I wanted to.

    IMHO Internet addiction (unlike TV addiction) is like having an eating disorder. You cannot not eat, you cannot not have Internet.

    Not having a TV is like being a dry alcoholic – you “simply” don’t drink beer if you know its bad for you. But you “have to have” Internet and then only use it in moderation, like a tool to accomplish whatever you need to find out, buy, whatever, but not getting carried away…which is difficult. Or you say “only one youtube clip to unwind and then I’ll research new job possibilities” … many hours later you are still on youtube…Even if you do something useful (research flights for your next holiday, hunt some obscure widget or information on the hike you want to do next weekend) the information overload (too much useful information) leads you to get sidetracked by wanting to know “everything”. The Internet has been stealing my life.

    1. I substituted television watching with internet use and still found the article helpful. I totally get what you are saying – the internet and rabbit hole that goes with it is (to me) way worse than the television. I can go all day with the television off but get anxiety if I have not checked my phone, texts, or social media in more than 15 minutes. It is debilitating.

    2. But really, it’s that feeling of “having to have”, which is an outright self made lie. I totally get what you’re saying. The internet provides a convenience to our life and because it does everyone uses it. I too used to have an internet addiction led by rabbit holes and social media. The things that we do that make life easier such as booking a trip, posting on Craigslist, job hunting etc, don’t take much time but it requires discipline to do.

      For example, job hunting, which agreeably, can be something very difficult to stay focused on (because typing in your work history over and over is the most mundane thing you can ever do). What I like to do it open up a notepad doc or something type everything out that I’ll likely need to enter and then google some opportunities. I enter in the information and I have a place to type in answers to individual questions that I could use on other application or add points to my resume. Creating the notepad doc doesn’t require me to have internet so I can turn it off for the time being, googling anything I need to google when I’ve done absolutely everything else.

      When I open up my job search query I already have the information up and can knock out a few job applications in a row since the information is copy/paste-able and get the satisfaction of productivity in a short period of time. For social media, it’s honestly lost it’s appeal past 💩posting for me, but I don’t run in large circles, and some people may have a different relationship with it. When I was more social I would NEVER use it when I was actually in front of people. I think that’s incredibly rude.

      I would challenge myself to go without checking my phone for intervals at a time, gradually increasing the and rewarding myself for long periods of disconnectedness. Most of the stuff we use the internet for to make life easier doesn’t take long and there’s nothing wrong with researching stuff but just ask yourself how useful that information is before getting lost. Like does it matter if I don’t know the name of that guy in that movie/band? Will I lose sleep if I don’t know what Day Christmas falls on this year? Ya know? 🤪

  20. Not just TV addiction, now people have another addiction to face and that’s the internet/social media/mobile phones addiction which is far more worse.

    1. Yeah, but there are a lot of sources you can watch to up your I.Q. instead of lowering it.
      Youtube has a lot of good videos.

      1. I agree. I am retired and used online courses to learn basic acrylic and watercolor painting techniques, which has led to my signing up for “real world” studio classes. There are many fantastic learning opportunities available through our public library’s website. Avoiding Netflix, etc., is a bit more of challenge right now as I injured my foot. I cannot do some of the activities that keep me away from the screen, like walking our 2 little dogs and more strenuous household chores. I read, spend time on hobbies and volunteering, see friends and family, exercise, and cook healthy meals, and talk more with my husband. I will say that on gloomy weather days, I used to spend almost entire afternoons binge watching series. I was disgusted with myself. Life is so much better now in 3-D instead of 2-D. Good luck everyone!

    1. This article was extremely timely for me. I am trying to get my face away from in front of a screen in 2019. This is my first day of withdrawal – I’m watching no cable at all today. I hope by the end of the month – one day at a time – I will be able to cancel the service. It’s been hard today – I usually watch six hours a day at least – especially as some of my favorite programs were on. But I also realize how useless, time-wasting, and violent many of them are. I’m allowing myself two episodes of a streaming show in the evenings. But I’ve been feeling the effects. I’ve had to recover from both a smoking and a drinking addiction, and have been both smoke- and alcohol-free for over 20 years. I know I can do this by using many of the same techniques I used to break those habits!

  21. thanks for a great article michael!
    came across this because i decided today to spend 2019 without the tv, internet or computer (at home) – only use email at work and/or essential internet use at work only.
    20 years ago i gave up tv for 1 year, managed it but substituted the internet instead which wasn’t ideal – so this time there won’t be that avenue to go down. this will mean that i will be able to discover what it is like to live a ‘real’ life, be comfortable with silence, being with myself, spending time with family, appreciating what i have and experiencing life and slowing down. so much of what we do at home is wasted in ‘escapism’ for the sake of it, with excuses such as being tired, stressed etc. also an opportunity to practise more self-care – meditate, sleep. thanks for the inspiration.

  22. 6 hours? That’s nothing, I have a father who watches 18 hours a day. There is absolutely ZERO exaggeration. The remaining 6 hours is dedicated for him to rest up and do it all over again the next day. Even while sleeping the TV is left on. So you can now imagine how the television is on 24 hours a day.

  23. Hey Michael

    Thanks for this inspiring and motivating article! I have the bad habit of watching too much tv or series aswell. It mostly affects me during summer holidays because that’s a long stretch and I just find myself lacking motivation to do other stuff. Nonetheless I recognise it’s something I need to remedy and will try my best to do so! In general I think having television or laptop before going to bed is rather disrupting and the “get fresh and grab a book” strategy will probably benefit me and others a lot more.


    1. Thanks for the kind words Nick. Yes, it’s important to have some other activity/behavior to engage in rather than watching TV. In the addiction recovery field, this is known as a VACI – Vital Absorbing Creative Interest. This can be a new hobby or an old hobby that you might want to rekindle. Or, as you said, it can be something as simple as reading a book or learning a new skill such as drawing, painting, writing or even meditation. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it would be ideal if this new activity involved engaging with other people. Addiction of any sort thrives in isolation.

  24. Thank you for this interesting article. I think many people, including myself, find themselves in situations like this because of lonliness. TV has been filling a social void, especially in North America, for decades. I am very motivated and ambitious, working full time, going to school, and running a business. I enjoy cooking and reading. But at the end of the day, there isn’t always people to talk to. Coming from a distant and unsupportive family, and having only a few close friends, this leaves me with few options in the evenings. I also like to read, but I will watch usually watch TV for about 3 hours per night, and more on the weekends.

    I just think that humans are made for much more community and connectivity than what we typically experience now. I would love to connect with friends most evenings after work, or even talk on the phone. But no one wants to do that anymore. After work, everyone goes home to their own family, and I live by myself. And its rare to find anyone that wants to talk on the phone now and then, let alone once a week.

    I don’t have a large enough network of friends to fill my evenings and weekends. And being around family can be extremely stressful and harmful. So I see TV as a way to not only be entertained, but to also feel connected to something, even if it isn’t real or personal.

    I’ve always wanted a warm family and a reliable group of friends (just like you see on tv, haha). But that is not reality for many people. What else is one to do, day after day, to fill the time?

    1. Thanks for the very thoughtful comment Kristina. You make a compelling case, and I can’t say that I disagree. I think what it comes down to is how you feel about your life and how you are spending your free time. If you feel that watching a few hours of TV each night is not taking away from you living a happy, healthy and prosperous life, who’s to say otherwise? On the other hand, if it feel like it’s creating problems for you in some way, that’s the point to do something about it.

    2. Thank you so much for this article and the comments. I was shocked to come across Kristina’s comments and how they described my same thoughts, feelings and situation. This would be a first for me to google something like this in addition to leaving some type of comment. I googled this today because the TV has just gotten too out of hand, while I know it is symptom of so many other issues, it has been a cure for the loneliness.

    3. I’m very similar to you Kristina. I don’t know the answer but I do know that when I was younger I felt so sorry for people who watched a lot of tv…and now that’s me! I try to remember what I used to do and how creative I was and feel that in a lot of ways tv has drained that from me. I decided to severely limit my tv watching and get busy again, no matter how lonely I am at the
      moment. I didn’t depend on tv when I was young and I am determined not to when I’m old!

      1. Melissa and Kristina — I don’t know how old your comments are or if you will see mine, but my heart broke after reading your stories. I AM kinda old — 62. I came across this article because I have successfully given up all tv and streaming with the exception of one episode of a show or one movie per week that my husband and I select to watch together at a specific day and time.

        So I am going to suggest 2 things that you might be sick of hearing, but they really could be your answer.

        1) Find a volunteer group or a group related to your career that would be thrilled to have your talents and your time. It may take a few tries to find one that fits, but just fill out the volunteer application and do it! Believe, me they would love to have an extra pair of hands. You will meet like-minded people and your empty hours will be filled.

        2) Find a church or similar group that congregates for fellowship and a shared search for personal or spiritual growth.

        I will be thinking good thoughts in hopes that you find happiness and fulfillment away from TV and Netflix.

    4. I fully agree with what was said here. My personal opinion is that people now days are more careful and certain, but the previous generations simply went with the flow and reacted to what came next.

  25. I honestly don’t know what to do, I’ve tried so many different techniques and this addiction is insurmountable for me – I just cannot imagine ever overcoming it. I am wasting my time on earth, secluding myself in my room and it’s negatively impacting every aspect of my life. Is there a support group or 10-step program or some more formal way I can try to tackle this with the help of others who have overcome it in the past? I’ve tried therapy with doctors who are not trained in this specific addiction and it doesn’t seem to work at all.

  26. I nearly started to cry after reading this. This hit so close to home. Every day after work I plant myself on the couch and waste several hours on the TV. I realize now that I have a full blown addiction to television.
    I have had substance addictions in the past that I thankfully got out of. The television is now my only remaining addiction but I am unsure how I can kick that. The only thing that probably would help is to throw out the TV but that feels excessive. I’m not sure how to go about it. The TV has been with me literally my whole life.
    Thanks for this great article. It really opened my eyes.

    1. Thanks for the comment Alexander. Getting rid of your TV is not excessive. That said, if you’re not ready to do that, I’d suggest you start with the suggestions I offered in the article.

  27. Thank you for such a well-written article. There is so much information there.

    I have been pretty successful at overcoming my own tv addiction. I still watch tv sometimes.

    My kids deserve better. TV really takes away from time that they deserve to have. They need interactions to develop their brains and their personalities.

    Thank you for the article. I wish I could figure out how to help my wife with her tv addiction, but you know how difficult that road can be. Each individual has to make their own choices about how to spend their time and attention.

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