After a long day at work, my favorite thing to do on weeknights was to pass out in front of the television. Most of the time, it didn’t even matter what I was watching; I just needed something to lull me into my zombie-like sleep.
This past summer, I decided to move to a different city here in Italy. After having lived in Milan for several months, I decided that I hated the city. It was too grey, too expensive, the people are always pissed off, and most importantly, it was full of litter with few green spaces (a big deal for a Canadian). So I headed off in search for a new apartment in my new city of residence—Bologna, Italy. After finding a temporary apartment, I met with the landlord.
“You know there’s no television at the moment, right?” he said. “We can look into getting one though, if you’d like.”
WHAT?! You mean no rerun marathons of my love-to-hate reality shows?!
“Nope, it’s no problem for me,” I told him. “I don’t want one.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love films and TV series (Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother in particular), but I felt that my nightly two to three hours of “couch potato time” were taking away from self-improvement and productivity. So what did I do with the free time I was suddenly given?
1. I started my blog.
I forgot how much I loved to write. It would be a waste not to write something down in my situation. I’m living abroad and moving from place to place, yet I didn’t even have a journal! Even if nobody reads what I write, I’ll have something to look back on after my 20s are over.
2. I started taking classes at the gym.
I love the gym, but it’s hard to commit to going regularly, especially during the winter months when you want to curl up in front of the television. Since I didn’t have the option to watch TV, I forced myself to look at the classes offered at my local gym in the evenings. I signed up for body pump, among others, and made this a regular habit before bedtime.
3. I started reading regularly.
I’ve loved reading since I was a child. It’s a habit I’ve carried with me throughout high school and university, but it died down a bit once I began working full-time. I replaced the TV stand with a bookshelf, and I choose something to read before I curl up on the couch and fall asleep. Reading makes me feel positive. Each time you read a new book, you open yourself to a new world of imagination, something that’s obviously missing from many television shows.
4. I made things.
I made a travel box, scrapbooks, and photo albums. Making things helps you feel better, especially when you feel down. It’s great to see a finished project that you designed yourself. The feeling of fulfillment that used to come from coloring books and crafts as a child has followed me into adulthood.
5. I stayed informed on my own.
The news programs we see are biased. If you don’t make an effort to look for a second opinion, you don’t see both sides of the story. The Internet has a massive amount of information from different countries with different political and social opinions. It was great to see how Italian television, BBC News, and CNN all morphed the same news stories to suit their own agenda.
6. I had a drink with friends.
When you’re exhausted on a Monday evening, the last thing you want to do is get dressed and go out. Having a drink with friends after work was surprisingly therapeutic. Laughing about my current frustrations allowed me to sleep better, and I found myself walking home smiling after catching up with some friends.
You’re full of ideas and creativity. Settling into a routine has a way of draining us of our imagination, but we don’t have to let this happen. Staying informed is easy with the Internet, so you won’t be missing out on anything, but discovering a new sense of self that you thought disappeared a long time ago is the best thing about not watching TV.