Behavior

TV

You may remember that in 2015, some dictionary made headlines by declaring “binge-watch” to be their word of the year. Now, if you’re like me you probably take issue with a hyphenated word being given such a high honor in the first place, but let’s move past that… Binge-watching has become a part of our lexicon because the action has become ubiquitous (now THERE’s a word worth honoring) in our society. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, pick your poison, but they all make it super easy to get sucked into episode after episode of whatever shows you happen to be into.

We made the decision to “cut the cord” and not pay for a cable subscription a few years back mainly because the value proposition seemed terrible. You want me to pay dozens of my precious dollars every month for a whole bunch of channels I couldn’t care less about? No thanks. However, I was raised on a steady diet of TV. Huddling up on the couch after dinner to watch the latest prime time hits was standard-fare in the Aardvark household growing up. So, you’d best believe that a lack of cable has not stopped me and the wife from binge-ing through dozens of hits over the years on the various streaming services mentioned above.

That brings me to today and to this experiment. I certainly still love television and movies and don’t necessarily want them gone completely from my life. I think they’re a cornerstone of our culture and I love seeing the ones that are really on top of their game and discussing with friends and coworkers. What I don’t want, however, is the binge-watching in my life. I hate the feeling that I got sucked into watching more than I should have, especially when there are a lot of ways I’d prefer to spend my time. For example, writing to you fine folks here on the interwebs!

Phew, long introduction, let’s get down to brass tacks:

The “Make TV Watching Hard” Experiment Terms

Catchy name, I know. As it implies, I’m not going to go cold turkey with zero TV at all, despite that probably being way more badass. I’m simply going to make it hard to watch TV in an effort to only watch something after making a very conscious decision to spend my time in that manner. Here’s how this will look:

  • First, I’m moving the TV and associated devices- Roku (built in), Xbox, Steam Link- into the cold, scary basement. With it being Winter, I’m not going to be too interested in going down there. (Accomplished this last night)
  • Second, I’m going to try to avoid going down there in the first place by doing more productive things with my time like studying, writing, reading, etc. Meals will become a time for conversation and reading instead of passively absorbing programming.
  • Third, any TV watching will be for a single movie or a single show episode. No getting sucked in and watching them back-to-back!

This will kick off today, December 1st, and last through the whole month.

Give It a Try!

Got something in your life that’s sucking up your time with no real benefit? Whether it’s TV like me or maybe those incessant social media apps on your phone, maybe try a month or even just a week of making it harder on yourself to get sucked in. I’d love to hear how it goes!

Alternatively, if you think I’m a wimp for not just tossing out the TV altogether, that’s fair too…

 

Also, check out my last experiment here.

 

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Buddha Meditating

This idea was inspired by David Cain over at Raptitude, who over the years has compiled a list of experiments that he’s performed in his own life to apply interesting ideas and see how they turn out. I’ve always found these to be entertaining and interesting and I think doing quick trial runs of potential habits is a great way to really test their value in your life. So, in his honor, and given that I’ve been reading a lot about it lately, I wanted to run an initial experiment in my life with establishing a daily meditation practice. I also believe meditation was the first of David’s many experiments and now it’s a huge part of his life; so, definitely a big inspiration.

The Meditation Experiment Terms

My goal will be 30 straight days with some form of meditation practice every single day. I’ll probably aim to keep each session between 5 and 10 minutes so that it doesn’t seem too daunting. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious or particularly rushed, I have no problem changing that up though. Continue reading The Meditation Experiment

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On YouTube yesterday I stumbled on a quick little video from Mark Cuban with 9 quick tips to “getting rich” (embedded below). Now I, like most people, hate the hell out of clickbait headlines and yet, they still inevitably work on me from time to time; so I watched it. Much of my curiosity came from the fact that lists like this either contain basic, common wisdom that is so bland as to be irrelevant, or ridiculous claims that will never apply to your average person. Despite that, my impression of Mr. Cuban has always been one of a highly competent entrepreneur, who is successful, not by chance, but because he’s really earned it. So, all that said, I wanted to see what ideas he was putting out and whether or not I agreed with them.

The 9 tips and my thoughts on them:

Continue reading Get Rich Tips from Mark Cuban

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Car full of money

We all know that catchy, advertising phrase, but does anyone ever really switch car insurance? I certainly hadn’t for about 10 years, until this week when I realized how silly it was to not even check for better deals. I’m pretty dedicated to frugality and good deals in most areas of life; why hadn’t I bothered to see what sort of options I had for insurance? It turns out that my assumptions and preference for the status quo were holding me back from an easy win, just like they have countless other times in my life and probably in yours as well. Continue reading “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance…”

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Reset button

I started writing this article while taking an overnight train from Seattle to San Francisco and looking out the window as we passed through a gorgeous national forest. Now, I say “started” because about 10 minutes into the process I got so nauseous from staring at the screen on a moving train that I had to abandon that whole idea… but that’s beside the point. The train ride was pretty fantastic and it was part of a week-long trip that took me to a number of new towns (thousands of miles from home), with a number of old friends, and, most importantly, well outside of my normal daily routine.

It was the lack of a routine that got me thinking

Humans, like many animals (I assume…I’m not a scientist), are creatures of habit. Once we’ve done something a certain way more than a few times, our brain actually starts to rewire itself and create fairly automatic routines. The next time we encounter the same situation, our brain will run through that routine with much less thought or attention. Continue reading Hit the Reset Button

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Anchor

When I think about the world of Sales, the first place my mind usually goes is the classic Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Like probably a lot of people I’ve actually never even seen the rest of the movie, just these couple minutes of intense berating that Alec Baldwin’s character delivers to a room of salesmen. It seems like everyone reacts one of two ways to this clip (and the reality that it’s meant to represent): Group A is inspired by his tough love approach and the motto “Always Be Closing” that says your success is determined solely by your desire and your drive to make things happen; Group B feels disgust at the treatment of the salesmen and the focus on maximizing money at the expense of all else in life. I’m not here to tell you how to feel, you could even be in both camps. I’m here to talk about how not only is this scene grounded in reality, but the attitude it represents isn’t limited to just some sleazy salesman trying to scam you into a big purchase. For better or worse, sales tactics are baked into the core of our capitalist society and the more you realize that, the less likely you are to fall victim to them.

Continue reading Price Anchoring- a Weight on your Budget

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Snowball

When I’m left up to my own devices (like when the wife is out of town or back in my bachelor days), I could go a few days without ever really picking up the house. There are a few things that always grab my attention, like dishes in a sink, but other things I could probably leave indefinitely, like clothes on the floor. I think everyone probably has their own little things like that and we all seem to exist somewhere along the spectrum from super messy to “neat freak”.

Now, while the house is in that messy, ignored state I may not feel like anything is off or really that bad about it. However, when it is actually clean, there is a huge difference in how the space feels and how I feel. I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself- when you’re going about your life in a neat and tidy space, your mind feels neat and tidy too. It’s easier to get things done that you want to do and life feels generally less stressful. For some reason though, we tend to get accustomed to a messy environment and not notice the subtle negative influence that it exerts. (It seems the same with diet too: if you’re eating junk all the time you may not even notice how sub-optimal you feel until you clean it up and get real food in your body and then “Oh my god, I feel amazing!”) Continue reading The Snowballing Effect of Small Lifestyle Changes

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