Turn off the television!

Someone asked me what little tweak made the biggest difference in my life.  It’s hard to choose just one, as my yellow brick road follows a path similar to an elaborate connect the dots puzzle.

Rather than pick one habit, let me take you on a journey of how I adapted to pull myself out of my funk and become a confident, motivated, positive, productive and happy individual.  My life is far from perfect, but I don’t expect it to be flawless.  I’ve spent over fifty years cultivating those flaws!  I just stay focused on growing each day.

Tune out the mindless drivel.

I gave up television while on long term disability during my treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer because I didn’t have the $120/month to throw away on something that was background noise in my day. With the stress and anxiety that a critical illness brings, I found I couldn’t watch the news, couldn’t focus for the length of a movie and found no enjoyment in brain-dead TV shows.

I consciously stopped turning on the TV for months, just to see if I could cut the cable and survive, and it was much easier than I expected.

Sure, I missed the local news, but have you ever stopped to think about how hosting all that trauma in your life has a negative impact?  I’m not talking about the good journalism that invites you think and uncover facts.  I’m talking about the car crashes, the acts of violence, the relentless reporting by reporters from the eye wall of the latest hurricane, the narrow-mindedness of bigots (I’m looking at you Don Cherry).

With unlimited high-speed internet and two mobile phones, I still had access to the world. I could visit news websites around the world for different viewpoints to stay abreast on affairs that I deemed important.

What that doesn’t mean is give in to obsessively scrolling through social media, games or any other behaviour that creates a breeding ground for a shortened and impulsive attention span.  My focus had already been destroyed by chemo, so the last thing I needed was more fluff between my ears.

Something interesting happened.  I became more informed on a wide variety of topics.  I read more.  Every day, I was reading top notch articles served up by my favourite browser Firefox via Pocket.

Pocket is owned by Mozilla and is part of the Firefox family of products. Pocket’s mission is to empower people to consume exceptional stories worthy of their time and attention.

Pocket is Mozilla’s content platform and is built into the Firefox browser. Together Pocket and Firefox expand reach and access to high-quality content while staying true to the values that drive us all: protecting the openness of the web and creating a content platform built around trust, privacy, and quality.

The topics are as varied as the authors, and I read whatever catches my fancy.

As I read, I wrote.  I took online classes.  I watched TED Talks.  I have a Netflix subscription so I can binge-watch when I need to disengage.

Our television hasn’t been turned on in two years.  It still works, so I am going to donate it to a shelter.  I know I can use it to stream Netflix, YouTube etc., but I just don’t want to sit in front of an idiot box.

If you follow the habits of highly successful business leaders – such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – each of them takes time out of their day/week to read and encourage deliberate learning.

It’s during those moments that the dots of creativity connect and spark to life.

Don’t believe me?  Read “How training my brain to focus” over @ Medium.com


The Fox circa 2020BC




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