Clean Dopamine – Part 6: Escape from Entertainment Media
In any challenge that is about sacrifice, I feel like a junky on withdrawal. But this time, it reminded me a lot of my blackout day, because once again, I was sitting at my rarely used kitchen table and had to occupy myself with other things. It seemed impossible to give up the flicker box, but what happened then, surprised even me.
No success without preparation
As always, I prepare well before making changes to anything bigger in my life. And this time, it is very big, as entertainment media are everywhere in my life.
So, some alternatives are a must:
Cooking healthy meals
In the last challenge, which was about nutrition and sports, I already learned how to cook some meals myself. Thanks to the time gained, I can cook in larger quantities every day and put these meals into the freezer or even take them to the office.
Since years already, a Sudoku book has been laying around in my apartment and I only pick it up as needed. But I had not felt a need for a long while, respectively "no time" anymore, because I spend most of my time on entertainment media. Now, the time has come to once more train my brain in analogue mode.
Since quite a while now, I've been trying to draw. I even went to a drawing class a few years ago, but it is not really taking off. Sure, you must follow a daily drawing routine to become good, but that's exactly where I falter.
Complete pending tasks
The probably most important point is that I can focus on my goals in life without constantly being distracted. Until end of this month (in about 10 days) I would like to finish about 30 more to-dos. Just, unfortunately, those are still mostly tasks of the uncomfortable kind. Stuff which may not take much time but which I often kick down the road.
Out of sight, out of mind
With a large TV, it is very difficult to keep it out of your line of view. Constantly I see it and constantly I want to turn it on and let something run, no matter what. So, I covered the TV with a thin blanket, in the hope that if I do not see it, I also will not perceive it and can outsmart my brain like that. Even if the TV with the blanket can no longer be switched on with the remote control, I recommend hiding that as well. As soon as you hold a remote control in your hand, it seems like by that, you got permission to waste the rest of the day. Therefore, the small powerful thing must be kept out of sight.
You can find more alternatives to time wasting acticities here.
Experiences from 3 weeks without entertainment media
On the first day, for starters, I overslept and after I got into the car frantically and was driving to work, I noticed only after 2-3 minutes that the radio was running. I did not punish myself at this point yet because when I remembered that I was doing a challenge, I switched off the radio immediately. The automatic start of the radio can be stopped if you turn off the radio before you turn off the engine. So, in the next few days, the radio did not turn on automatically when I started the car. Music was forbidden, but I was allowed to hear audiobooks if I was learning something from them and needed the knowledge for something. I did not listen to a single audiobook, because it was too much of an effort to learn something so soon after getting up, and after a stressful day at work, a turned-off radio was incredibly enjoyable. I can only recommend practicing that after work else as well.
In the office, there´s a TV in the room where we're having lunch. Though without sound and only the news running, but I sat down with my back to the TV and focused on the conversation of my co-workers. I've noticed, however, that my co-workers were often distracted, interrupted the conversation briefly and focused on the television and even sometimes asked me to look at the TV because something had happened in the world. And often it was about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Out of habit, the first thing I do when I get home, is preparing something to eat. Often, I really feel like having sandwiches or soft-boiled eggs and then I sit down on the couch with it and watch YouTube videos or series. But what is that? In front of me, a big something in beige. It's the wrapped-up TV, and the blanket kept me from wasting the rest of my evening. With my food, I went to my small dining table then and looked out of the window while eating. In my new apartment, I have an incredibly beautiful view, but I have never actively taken some time for it and enjoyed it. Especially since I always let the shutters down, when the TV is running.
To not accidentally surf on all the time-consuming pages, I did install suitable plugins for my browser to block them before I even land on them. But to block pages, I have to visit them first in order to copy the URL and paste it into the filter. So, I blocked mainly funny and entertaining sites and diverse video platforms. But when I visited a funny website, I unconsciously lingered on the page. The plugin (WasteNoTime) also showed me how much time I spent on each page. Thus, I knew I actually was already for over 15 minutes on a website I wanted to block, looking at funny pictures. Even though it is very paradoxical that while preventing entertainment media, you are consuming them, it was still a violation of the rules and I had to serve the penalty.
My penalty was to eat only bread and water for one day. So, I made another loaf that same day and sliced it the next morning and ate almost the whole loaf in one day. I imagined it to be incredibly difficult, because even at breakfast it was very bland to have no topping on the bread. At work, I was only allowed to eat the bread for lunch as well. Homemade bread tastes umpteen times better than that from the supermarket and it is the only bread that really tastes without any topping, but at the latest in the evening, I could not stand seeing it any longer. But I had to endure it the whole day because otherwise my reward would have been out of the question and most of the time of the challenge was over already. With such a harsh punishment, I programmed it into my head quite well that entertainment media are evil. The next day, I was happy about a bowl of cereal and was cursing entertainment media even more.
One evening, I wasn´t in the mood to cook my own food and went to a kebab shop. They got a TV there, constantly running some music program. It was hard to ignore that. While I was waiting for the food, I read the label of a bottle, trying to not tap my foot on the floor to the beat.
Even in the supermarket, you cannot avoid consuming entertainment media. Music is running constantly, and in the electronics department, there are high-resolution, hectic movie scenes all the time, doing their best to make me buy the stuff. But even in the tool department, there is often a monitor, perpetually showing the same advertisement, to make me believe just how supposedly great the advertised product is and that I also need it. In such situations, I quickly did my shopping and left the store as quickly as possible and did not punish myself because by no means I wanted to consume entertainment media.
Living without entertainment media works very well in any case. It is just unfamiliar because the alternatives often involve active actions rather than lying around passively. But from the point where I got my butt in gear, it really went very well.
It is just the one small hurdle that needs to be overcome to get to the implementation phase. Of course, it's easier to push a button and lie down, but is it more fun than the alternatives? Certainly not! At least, most of the alternatives were more fun for me, and when I successfully accomplished or achieved something, then the joy was even greater.
An important experience for me was as well that I got confronted with boredom. In an age when nobody can cope for a few seconds without entertainment or distraction, it is very important to expose oneself to boredom on purpose. Often, a restlessness overcame me, but after a few days, I used the newly gained time to think about my future and my life. And if I've been thinking hard about something, then writing down the things that were in my mind helped. A notebook is quasi-mandatory when you start thinking freely and without distractions.
The notebook contains a great number of unbelievably great thoughts and ideas that I would not have had otherwise, but which will help me on my journey to the clean dopamine. What exactly this is about, you will learn in the seventh part of Clean Dopamine.