Minimalist Living: Life Without a TV

11 01 2012

For years, my husband and I talked about giving up our TV. We hadn’t had cable in a decade, hardly watched anything other than the news, and didn’t like the way it was the focal point of our living room.

But for some reason we could never take the crucial step of getting rid of the darn thing. Worse yet: when a lightning storm conveniently destroyed it for us, what did we do? We went out and bought another one. {sigh}

Our recent overseas move, however, provided us with another chance to be TV-free. And this time, I’m happy to report, we took it.

Shipping our television to the UK was out of the question—not only would it have been prohibitively expensive, it was unlikely to work here anyway. So we finally bit the bullet, and sold it on Craigslist a few days before our closing.

After we’d crossed the pond and found a flat, the question soon arose as to whether or not to replace it. Luckily, the British government made our decision much easier; as soon as we found out about their annual TV tax of 142.50 GBP (about $237 USD), we had all the incentive we needed to embrace the no-TV life.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too concerned about giving up the physical television because I thought we could watch the few shows we liked (ie. The Office) online. Unfortunately, we discovered that our foreign IP address prevents us from viewing American programming—so we’ve really gone cold turkey. (But if you’re in the US, you could certainly ease into the TV-free life with judicious use of the internet.)

We’ve been without a television for over two months now—and to be honest, we hardly notice its absence. In fact, our home, and lives, seem much more serene without it.

Better yet, I’ve found that our lack of a television has made it easier for us to live a minimalist lifestyle. Here’s how:

1. No commercials. The fewer things we see advertised, the less stuff we “need” or want—hence, the less likely we are to fill our home with junk. We also escape the feelings of deprivation such marketing messages are designed to invoke.

2. No “Joneses” to keep up with. We have no idea how celebrities, reality stars, or TV characters dress or decorate their homes, so we have no motivation to purchase similar items. We’re also blissfully unaware of popular culture and trends, so they have no influence on our consumer decisions.

3. Less furniture. We don’t need a TV stand or entertainment center. We’ve also been able to rethink the layout, and necessity, of other living room furniture (I’ll write more about this in a future post).

4. Fewer accessories. We’ve eliminated the need for a DVD player, sound system, speakers, and remote controls.

5. Less repetition. Between morning, dinnertime, and evening, we used to watch about two hours of news each day—and see the same stories repeated ad nauseum. Now we simply read the news online, and receive the same information in a much more efficient manner.

6. Less “junk” news. We’re no longer subject to frivolous “news” stories on celebrities, sports figures, and entertainers. (Remember CNN’s round-the-clock coverage of Paris Hilton’s jail term?)

7. More time. Now that watching television isn’t an option, we suddenly have a lot more leisure time. We’ve found that reading, talking, taking long walks, and trying new hobbies are much more satisfying than vegging in front of the tube. It actually feels like we have extra hours in the day!

When creating a minimalist lifestyle, we typically think about paring down our possessions. Just as important, however, is paring down distractions. Whether it’s television, magazine subscriptions, unfulfilling relationships, or commitments, anything that steals too much of our time and attention should be a candidate for elimination.

When we live minimally, we live more mindfully. By eliminating the extraneous, we gain the space, time, and energy to focus on what’s truly important to us.

I know many people may find it extreme to live without a television—and as I’ve mentioned, it took nothing short of an overseas move for us to give up ours. But if you’re striving for a minimalist lifestyle, the prospect is certainly worth considering.

Ask yourself if your TV enhances, or detracts, from your well-being. If the news makes you anxious, commercials make you acquisitive, or the “noise” makes you feel overwhelmed, distracted, or depressed, try pulling the plug (at least temporarily)—you may find yourself much happier without it!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: