FUELSPACE

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BrainFuel: What I learned from Canceling My Cable (Hint: It is Awesome)

About a month ago, my wife and I decided to cancel our cable and ditch the TV. Why would we do the unthinkable? The initial reason was just money. We were sinking a lot of hard-earned cash into the void that is cable programming. However, it turns out the real reason you should do this is that life is vastly superior when you don't watch TV. It is an interesting concept to understand before you have actually made the leap. Oh...just in case you never read this message, it is most likely because our cable provider (who now provides only our internet service) found it, deleted it, and then removed me from my home late at night with a bag on my head.  So here is what I have learned. 

1. TV is one of the reasons you feel so rushed

Do you feel rushed? Are you always thinking about what you need to do next? Are you playing with your kids while you plan tomorrow's staff meeting in your head? This is the driving force behind the mindfulness movement in America.  If this sounds familiar, it is because we always feel rushed to move on to the next "thing" we have to do.  This is standard operating procedure for most busy professionals. Canceling your cable is one of the easiest ways imaginable to remedy this situation. Once TV is gone, you have a lovely chunk of time back when you don't need to be watching the latest episode of Naked Dating.  It takes about a week, but eventually you stop rushing through your evening so you can get to the couch and sit down and zone out. The evenings begin to feel longer, slower -- as they should. It's quite lovely. 

NOTE: My Internet has now gone out three times since I began this article. Never used to happen before I canceled my cable. They are punishing me for my insurrection.

2. You will find amazing things to fill your time with

When this little experiment first began, I admit I missed the ol' tube. I wondered what I would do now that I had all this time on my hands. Would I be bored? Turns out the answer is no. You will find very rewarding things to fill your time with. Combine this with insight #1 above and you have a really nice recipe for productive and enjoyable evenings. I spend more time cooking, and actually enjoying the process of cooking now that I am not so rushed. I found out that I like to write. Look mom...I have a blog!  No seriously, this entire blog is primary a result of not having TV.  I read, I write, I cook, I tend to the garden, I take the dog on more walks. I used to have zero books by my bed.  Now I have three. I exercise more and no longer feel like I have to be somewhere to be (that somewhere used to be the couch). It's liberating. The problem is this: TV turns off your brain completely. It does not relax you, it simply puts you in full zone-out mode. Have you ever watched children when the TV gets turned on?

It's truly frightening.  I was surprised to find a new, highly-creative version of myself surfacing each evening. Sitting at the table again (I forgot we had a dining room table) has been a gateway to new ideas. Problems get solved. Work frustrations get vented and released. Enjoyable and funny conversation happen. You will find yourself relaxing in a much more natural way -- one that does not involve artificial daylight

3. You will not miss out on anything

I will miss the news!  I will miss the Bachelor and have nothing to talk to the people at work about! Oh no! Turns out, this is not an issue. I am not advocating canceling your Internet (I'm not crazy, people! I have a blog). Smartphones keep us constantly connected, often to a fault. Soon your phone will be implanted into your arm. One of the things you absolutely do not need to worry about is information under-load. I still know what's going on in the world; my Google alerts still seem to find me. If we really want to see a movie, we go to a friends house or (gasp!) to the theater. Crazy, I know. But worry not -- you will be just as connected and informed as you were prior. You will just be calmer and more sane when absorbing your news the next day. 

Give it a try. It is harder than you think to pull the trigger. Commit and do it. Call the massive conglomerate you shell out cash to each month and tell them you don't want what they are selling. They will offer you the world (Do you want one million channels free for one month?  Yes?! Regular rates apply including, but not limited to, your first born child, your car, and your good health. Call TODAY!)

Don't fall for it. Don't waste your precious time and money. Just cancel. Write to me and let me know how you feel after one month.