101 Ways to Escape the TV Trap and Enjoy Life More

Rock climbing, TV-free, No TV, deep living“I’m always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.” ~ Alice Walker

Who knew that the last post about reflecting on our near-three-year journey without TV would resonate so much? Between the comments, the Twitter chatter and the resulting conversations I’ve had with many people, the TV-free lifestyle seems to be catching on. I am so thankful for all those who shared their story.

For those like Courtney over at Be More With Less who are just starting down the Road to TV Freedom or even those experimenting a little (TV Lite?), I thought it might be helpful to share a list of things you could do instead of watching The Magic Box. Many of these are things our family has done over the years; some are on our to-do list.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means. You can do anything besides watching TV. But we have found (especially early on when we were starting out) that being able to plan some activities helps take your mind off the fact that you’re NOT watching TV. When you are engaging your mind and body in invigorating activities both big and small, you are allowing yourself to live life, to enjoy the moment, to expand your horizons. And if you have kids, you are teaching them invaluable lessons in creativity, exploration, diversity of thought, connecting with Nature… the list is endless.

I hope you find these helpful. Feel free to add your own via a comment!

1. Have a dinner picnic down at your local park or beach with your family or special someone
2. Cook a fantastic meal outside
3. Take an after-dinner hike
4. Find your local freecycle group
5. Head out on a bike ride around town
6. Grab a pick up game of basketball, baseball or football (both kinds)
7. Serve up some tennis at your local court
8. Let your kids run off that extra energy at the playground
9. Finally start that garden you’ve always wanted
10. Plant a tree (or three!)
11. Build yourself a compost bin
12. De-clutter your life a little and clean out your garage or shed (don’t forget to freecycle!)
13. Check out an event or class through your local continuing education center
14. See what is happening at your local library
15. Hang a clothesline and discover how awesome your clothes will smell after line drying
16. Get settled and watch that sun set (or moon rise)
17. Enjoy an after-dinner concert by listening to the amazing bird songs at dusk
18. Watch the aerial acrobatics of the bats coming out as the sun goes down
19. Play an after-dinner board game with the kids outside
20. Learn how to rock climb
21. Cozy up to the fence and catch up with your neighbors…
22. Or better yet, take down that fence
23. Treat your dog to an extra-long run, then…
24. Treat yourself to an ice cream
25. Brew up some DIY laundry detergent (this is my old blog!)
26. Sketch out how to create a ‘green team’ at work
27. Figure out how to diversify your income
28. Strap on some sneakers and go for a walk or run
29. Learn what ‘planned obsolescence’ means and why you should avoid it
30. Support your local farmers market
31. Find a car-pool partner
32. Learn to play chess (or teach your kids)
33. Volunteer at your local school or nursing home
34. Start a cul-de-sac commune
35. Learn how to tune up your bike and start driving less
36. Teach your kids how to read or just read to them
37. Build awesome cities and racetracks and castles with blocks, Legos, and what ever else is around
38. Learn to cook or bake
39. Listen to some new music
40. Find an inspiring podcast for your commute
41. Sing and dance with your kids
42. Take a class and learn some dancing yourself
43. Start music lessons
44. Pick some flowers and make someone smile
45. Learn how to meditate
46. Play a board game (remember those?)
47. Make some homemade puppets and create your own theater
48. Go strawberry, blueberry, and apple picking
49. Learn a new language
50. Plant a sun flower “house”
51. Visit a museum
52. Try your hand at drawing, painting, sculpting or glassblowing
53. Play dress up with your kids
54. Make a homemade book with your kids and let them write the story
55. Pick up a book on science experiments for kids and learn all the cool stuff you can do with baking soda and vinegar
56. Eat a face-to-face dinner and talk about your day
57. Try your hand at DIY dishwasher soap (again, my old blog)
58. Make some homemade instruments and jam like a wanna-be rockstar
59. Put up some bird feeders, then…
60. Learn the names of the birds who visit them
61. Contemplate the stars and moon
62. Try your hand at camping or backpacking
63. Make a homemade gift
64. Learn to knit or sew
65. Start a community garden in your neighborhood
66. Help your kids practice their numbers and letters
67. Discover letterboxing
68. Teach yourself the fine art of canning
69. Explore your local beach/pond/river and see what the kids can find
70. Build an awesome fort
71. Volunteer at your local food pantry
72. Start your own blog
73. Learn the names of the trees around you
74. Make an emergency go-bag
75. Support a local business
76. Teach your kids how to swim
77. Get involved in a community board, committee or council
78. Catch up with friends and family
79. Learn to surf
80. Read up on cool stuff like permaculture and Transition Towns
81. Get a camera and start capturing what you see
82. Create a life map
83. Check out a local musician and support your local music scene
84. Produce and launch your own podcast
85. Learn how to fix something yourself
86. Explore the philosophy of deep ecology
87. Go kayaking or canoeing
88. Practice mindfulness in any kind of everyday task
89. Start a land trust
90. Learn the constellations
91. Help champion a social cause
92. Lead a beautification project in your community
93. Try your hand at making (and eating) a vegetarian meal
94. Visit a local brewery or vineyard
95.  Read that novel you always wanted to
96.  Coach your kid’s sports team or lead their Scouting unit
97.  Organize a food drive – even a small one
98.  Meditate, pray or do whatever feels natural to connect to that which is bigger than you
99.  Skip stones down by the shore
100.  Have a campfire and make smores
101.  Contemplate your place in the universe

See all the living that TV is taking you away from? There are clear themes – simple, hands-on, free (much of the time), engaging, educational, spiritual; sparking growth of your mind and body; rediscovering our place within the natural world; focusing on what’s truly important in life.

TV does not do this. Most programming sends you into the Drone Zone; it atrophies your mind (and body). But you have a choice! You can choose to put the remote down and start living more deeply each and every day. You can choose real life over the fabricated kind that TV delivers.

Give it a try and see what happens. Commit to one day a week and go from there. Plan out your activities. You won’t be disappointed! Comment if you need help and I will do what I can.

Be well,

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[Image: Laurent Filoche]

7 Responses to “101 Ways to Escape the TV Trap and Enjoy Life More”
  1. Paul F says:

    Hey Bill, where fits in – “Start WRITING that novel you always wanted to”?!

    The cooking one resonates. I love the Food Network, but can’t do much more than an omelette…

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Paul // Great addition! Somehow that slipped my mind (as I was writing, mind you). Pursuing other things than watching TV just naturally allow creativity flow. It’s like our minds want to stretch, to bend, to reach out into new places. How that creativity manifests — whether writing a novel, creating a craft or pushing the boundaries of fort building with your kids — is what our life is calling us to do. Everyday. Humans were not meant for a passive existence.

  3. Lynn Fang says:

    Thanks for the link! Great list, btw. I just thought of creating a list like this, though much shorter. =P

  4. Bill Gerlach says:

    Lynn // Any time. I was so glad you had that post to refer people to. Permaculture is such an important thing to learn about (and practice!). I didn’t need to list out 101 things; it’s more symbolic than anything. Just trying to show that there is SO much more we could be doing instead of wasting away in front of a TV.

    I’ll be on the lookout for your list! Be well.

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