• The Hopefulist

Get off the couch!


Happier people watch less television. There I said it. It's true. There are numerous studies that show people who watch less t-v compared with those who watch a lot are much happier on a whole. There is some data that shows watching t-v can bring short term happiness but usually at the expense of long term happiness.


My mother is the perfect example of this for me. She lived her life in front of the t-v. She watched all day and all night. She watched everything from crime shows to talk shows to reality television and everything in between. And she was the most unhappy person I know. In fact, we had gotten into arguments because she couldn't give up watching the Maury show to find out who the father was in order to listen to me on the radio in the morning. It was hurtful to me that a talk show was more important to her than listening to her own daughter on the radio. But this is what happens when you get yourself into an unhealthy routine and can't force yourself out of it.


There are a number of reasons why t-v watching ultimately leads to unhappiness. The first and foremost is that you are watching other people's lives instead of living your own. Instead of getting dressed, socializing and actually doing stuff you tend to just sit in front of the t-v which requires nothing for you to enjoy. Not even showering if you don't want to. And once this becomes your normal, it gets harder and harder to break out of it.


Full disclosure....I watch television most of the day. Let me rephrase...I have it on most of the day. I have a habit of keeping court television shows on all day. You know, the People's Court, Judge Judy...those types of things. But it's nothing that I'm terribly invested it. It's more background noise as I read or do work. I do watch some cases and I really should just turn it off but I'm not sitting glued to the t-v all day long. That's not the case at all. But there is something unsettling to me about having nothing on at all. There are times I come home from somewhere and my husband is just sitting there playing a game on his iPad. I ask him why the t-v isn't on and he says...get this...I wasn't watching it. Um, you don't need to watch it. I guess I am just used to the background noise. Maybe it's a habit I should work on. It certainly wouldn't hurt for me to learn how to operate my day without the noise of the t-v.


But here's the other thing with watching television. It sets up a comparison scenario which is never good for us. Whether we are aware of it or not...we start to compare our lives to what we see on t-v. If you watch a lot of 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' then I just lost a lot of respect for you. I'm kidding...BUT your brain takes in the lifestyle that they live and becomes unsatisfied with your life because it isn't as luxurious or exciting. And honestly, their lives aren't as exciting as they seem either. That's the power of good editing. And we all know by now that reality t-v is indeed scripted to a certain extent to make it more interesting, right?


There is nothing wrong with sitting down at the end of the day and enjoying a couple of favorite shows. It is a great way to unwind. But it's something that should be consumed as part of your day instead of your whole day. During this time of quarantine do you notice the difference between those people who can't wait to get out of the house and those who are perfectly fine sitting home all day, everyday. Likely, the difference is their level of happiness and success. People who are happy are more social and have a wide variety of activities they engage in.


As with most things, you may need to sacrifice some short term comfort in order to cultivate long term happiness. Get in the shower, get dressed, make yourself look nice if even for just yourself. Take some fun selfies of you and the dog while you look nice. Grab a cup of coffee out or hit the store for a new hat. But please, get off the couch! And keep doing it. I promise you it will life your spirits and hopefully make you want to do it more often.


Happy Tuesday! Turn the t-v off for just a short time today and do something different. Read, catch up on news online, practice a new hobby, spend extra time making a delicious dinner. Maybe get a work out in. Try new things and find new points of interest. Start slow and build up to more and more television free time. You won't regret it.


Now go be badass today. I know you will be. And I'll be here, cheering you on.

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