Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happiness Tip: Stop Watching So Much TV!

A recent, 30 year study at the University of Maryland confirms it: The more TV you watch, the less happy you probably are. So what do the happy people do with their spare time: they read or socialize. Some of the major findings:

-Self-described "very happy people" were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers. By contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time.

-According to the study's findings, unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after taking into account their education, income, age and marital status - as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness.

-The data also suggested TV viewing is "easy." Viewers don't have to go anywhere, dress up, find company, plan ahead, expend energy, do any work or spend money in order to view. Combine these advantages with the immediate gratification offered by television, and you can understand why Americans spend more than half their free time as TV viewers.

-Unhappy people were also more likely to feel that they have unwanted extra time on their hands (51 percent) compared to very happy people (19 percent) and to feel rushed for time (35 percent vs. 23 percent). Having too much time and no clear way to fill it was the bigger burden of the two.

-TV and addiction: The short, temporary pleasure of television can be likened to addiction: "Addictive activities produce momentary pleasure and long-term misery and regret," he says. "People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged. For this kind of person, TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It's habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out."

We are currently without TV in our household, although we do watch a lot of movies and TV series on DVD. I think most of us are aware of the dangers of too much TV watching, yet we flirt with it anyway. It does have an addictive quality to it that we should not underestimate. Not that I think some TV watching is bad, but we should be careful with it. Especially if we know that it may directly impact our happiness. Interesting stuff!


Lindsey Dueck said...

I agree! Too much TV makes people unhappy. As does too much Internet and too much texting. I have seen it with my own two eyes...

Jobina said...

Are you writing this because you're working late and I'm at home with the Lois and Clark series again??

Mark said...

Absolutely not honey. But . . . how many episodes did you watch last night again?

Jobina said...

Ummm, is five in one day really that bad??