Why Pay to Feel Bad?

I’ve written before about how we’ve cut out cable TV, preferring instead to use Netflix and over the air channels for our entertainment needs. Recently, however, we allowed cable back into the house. I’m a huge Olympics and tennis junkie and my husband is a big NASCAR fan. And March Madness is coming. Between the 2010 Olympics, the Australian Open, and the beginning of the NASCAR season, there was going to be a lot on TV this winter that we wanted to watch. Since the weather is so crummy and we’re stuck inside, we agreed to have them turn the cable back on for just a couple of months and see whether or not it was something we wanted to reinstate full time.

While we’ve been enjoying the sports, I’m being reminded of why I eliminated cable in the first place. Television makes me feel bad. Unfortunately, I’m the sort of person that, if the TV is in the house, I watch. I guess I have no discipline, but I’m easily sucked into the TV. I end up wasting hours watching junk and mindlessly surfing. That makes me feel bad because later I think of all the things I could and should have done with that time.

TV also makes me feel bad because much of it is depressing. The news is nothing but a rundown of various murders, betrayals, and disasters. The news anchors blow up small problems into huge traumas in an effort to raise their ratings. In turn, my blood pressure and stress level is raised for no reason. Many reality shows are full of backstabbing, stupidity, and anger which can be funny in small doses but ends up making me angry and irritated in turn. Criminal shows and medical shows depict a very depressing world. I get enough of that sort of thing in real life; I don’t need to see it flashed across the screen. And then there are the commercials that I just find annoying. I either don’t want what they’re selling, can’t afford it, or just find the commercial off-putting. In short, to me, there are only a select few shows that are worth watching (but I can get those on DVD if I’m patient) and then there are sports. Sports are really the only reason for me to keep any sort of TV. The rest of it makes me feel awful.

Midway through our return to cable experiment I turned to my husband and asked, “Why are we paying to feel this bad?” He agreed with me and we decided that as soon as the Olympics are over, cable will once again be exiting this house. If I could be more disciplined and turn off the news, etc. and only watch when something really great is on, maybe we could keep it. But since I am weak, it has to go.

My question continued to nag at me. TV isn’t the only thing that people pay for that makes them feel bad. People pay for food that makes them fat and unhealthy. Once in a while is fine, but many people eat like this every day then wonder why they’re sick. Some buy things they don’t need which ends up making them feel bad because they either can’t afford it, have no where to put it so it becomes clutter, or both. Other people spend a fortune chasing trends and then feel bad when they can’t keep up. Cigarettes and alcohol are a whole other world of paying to feel bad. There are a lot of ways that spending can make you feel bad, and not all of them are immediately obvious.

What the cable experiment has taught me is that feeling bad from spending on certain things can sneak up on you. When we had cable before, I didn’t fully realize the effect it had on my mood. It was just the status quo. But when we got rid of it, I felt better even if I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why. Now that it’s back, I realize exactly why it makes me feel bad and I know it needs to go. Had I not gotten rid of it in the first place and seen what life was like on the other side, I’d still be accepting my bad feelings as normal. It’s the same with bad food. When I was addicted to soda, the caffeine and sugar made me jittery and moody. I didn’t realize it until I got rid of it. Now if I do have a soda, say at a party, I can feel the effect immediately and I’m reminded of how much better I feel without it. All those years I felt bad and didn’t realize it, or realize why.

Sometimes you have to pay for things that make you feel bad. A trip to the doctor is no one’s thrill (particularly when shots and tests are involved), but you have to do it, for example. In general, though, you don’t want to spend money on things that make you feel bad. It’s a waste of money, even if it seems like a good idea at the time. Why would you want to pay to feel bad? There are going to be a lot of things in life that are going to make you feel bad for free and without your input or control. Why pay to make yourself feel even worse?

Take some time and think about the things you spend money on in your life. Honestly evaluate how it makes you feel. If you’re not sure or if you suspect it makes you feel bad, try eliminating that thing for a little while and then gauging the effect on your feelings when you add it back in. You might find that things you thought were fun have really been making you feel bad and you might decide to stop spending money on them and instead start spending your money on things that make you feel better.

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9 Responses to Why Pay to Feel Bad?

  1. thriftorama says:

    I totally understand. Hubby (37) and me (35) got cable for the first time ever recently, and it’s really just a bunch of commercials. I feel like I pay a lot of money and there is nothing worth watching. We only signed up for it so we can watch international soccer games without going to a bar, so that has been worth it, but otherwise, it wouldn’t be.

  2. Emily says:

    You get my vote – I recently got Direct TV throughout the house – it has been in our family room for I guess about 8 years. And my husband commanded it. Finally I woke up to the nagging between children and hubby and decided to bite the bullet and let the 3 other tv’s in our house also get direct TV. Result? Everyone is saying in their rooms, it is like a hotel/motel situation with the kitchen being the “check in” place. Not liking that at all. And yes – I have noticed that if I have the TV on in the bedroom my “man cave” man will enter – forget what he wanted to share with me – and just start watching. For some people it is very mind controlling – and for others it can be a take it or leave it proposition. My life in not enriched by having direct TV. The human carnage of “Bridezillas”; Clean House; Hoarders; and I am sure many, many more shows makes me wonderful and question my need for any kind of TV – believe me – one watching of any of these shows and I am feeling bad…like for days!!!!

  3. Larabelle says:

    I completely agree.
    I also realized that TV was a negative influence in my life as it was eating up all of my time and the shows were depressing me. I also got sick of all of the advertisements….so I gave my television away…yes, yes, YES I went Television free and while I was at it I also gave away my computer. I did keep my radio.
    I am much happier. I have alot more time to read, pray, meditate and just live my life.
    If I had known years ago how wonderful I would feel without a television I would have never allowed the stupid thing in my house in the first place.

  4. Larabelle says:

    Oh besides making me mentally feel bad I found that TV was financially negatively affecting me. I did not realize how suspectable I was to advertising until I eliminated my tlevision. I found that once I eliminated my television my desire to have things decreased. I have thus far paid off $60K in debt in the past two years.

  5. GaelicWench/Jo says:

    I have complete, and yes, I mean just that, willpower when it comes to watching the telly.

    I have only two tellies in the house. One is in the man-cave; that’s essentially my hubby’s hangout where he (a 100% disabled, but ambulatory, veteran)watches his favorite shows; however, he isn’t disciplined to turn it off when he leaves the room.

    I have a DD’s telly in my office. She is currently away at university, so left it here since she wouldn’t have time to watch it anyways. I spend a decent amount of time in this room since my desktop is here as well. My laptop is downstairs in the man-cave.

    I have ample opportunity to turn on the telly, but don’t and won’t. My rule is it has to be a show that I, personally, thoroughly enjoy and am following, but which my hubby doesn’t care for. This is rare, however. He and I enjoy watching the Science Channel, the Discover Channels, History, TLC, Planet Green and the local ones. We watch them together. I refuse to hang out inthe man-cave if he’s got something on for the sake of noise it puts out. :::eyeroll::: That is indeed a waste of money, but it is HIS money, and since his only debts are the house and the car, he considers the telly his Leisure expense. He can also work on his custom-made jewelry he plans on selling online and through word-of-mouth.

    I don’t feel a bit guilty with this expense because we eat at home a lot; we don’t often go out to eat. I also I am learning a lot by watching the educational channels regarding all manner of subjects.

    But it is to each their own to realize faults, weaknesses, and strengths. Lastly, for the need of laughter, I watch only ONE sitcom: “Everybody Loves Raymond” in syndication. That’s how far removed I am from watching the telly.

  6. Gail says:

    Sounds crazy but after years without TV except for videos and DVDs I realized that I wasn’t getting as much hand needlework doen. Since I generally always do two things at once, I always used TV time to do cross stitch and embroidery. Now I usually read when hubby has a movie on that I’ve seen plenty of times before. My son loaned us and our other son DVDs of The Office which I wanted to see since the one son talked about it all the time. Since that is a show where you have to watch to actually see Jim’s facial expressions I can’t sew with it on either.

    But, is that a big enough reason to go back to regular TV and the nonsense that is on? No way. Just seeing what is on the TV while waiting for lab work to get done is always enough to convince me to never turn the TV on to regular TV again. Idiotic are most of the shows and the commercials are even worse.

  7. I am with you! I love when the TV is off. I love when the kids have music on and everyone is at the dining table doing projects, puzzles or playing games! WE enjoy each much more!

  8. Jackie says:

    Personally, I find my tv and the cable package I pay for a time suck – but I don’t find it depressing. I have no problem tuning out commercials (or fastforwarding on my dvr) and a lot of the bad news I either process or let go. However, I do spend way too much time watching TV and the Olympics have me glued to the couch recently – even with the ability to ff through the events I don’t care about, it still takes awhile.

    I go back and forth on the expense. Not because I don’t like the shows I watch enough, but because I am overweight and need to be more active. My love of TV is just one of many sedentary activities I like and one of the most expensive.

    That said, I do like the perspective of this article. I’m trying to be more frugal, but am still pretty wasteful in certain areas. It is absolutely true that every time I spend money on fastfood that I’m paying for food + all the mental recriminations. I’ve never thought of it that way before and I like this way of approaching the situation.

    I have one quibble – “People pay for food that makes them fat and unhealthy. Once in a while is fine, but many people eat like this every day then wonder why they

  9. Cindy M says:

    You left out the antidepressant pill thing. Most of my family members (most people I know, actually) seem to be some variety, yet they all claim they don’t really work in the long run. And I’d take some issue with you about “having” to see a doctor and what an incredible racket so-called preventive medicine is, but that’s another subject. So much crap advice most people should ignore and just get moving.

    I’m into getting out daily if at all possible to take a walk, beats pill popping and helps lift the mood tremendously especially in winter and try to stay more physical (I’ve shovelled a ton of snow this winter; hate it but feel great afterward). I also flip the radio on these days instead of the TV most of the time. I’m reading more now like I used to. I use converter boxes for my TVs and find I only glance at 2 channels. Yes, the news is depressing and not really new anyway. I do my best to take it all with a grain of salt. My 2 cents.

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