How to make TV a source of happiness

For some unapologetic couch potatoes, that’s a little like saying “How to make beer a source of happiness.”  But — like beer — TV can also cause a few problems.

Here are some helpful suggestions (courtesy, The Happiness Project) for avoiding those problems (other than just turning it off or giving it away):

At lunch today, I was part of a spirited conversation on the pros and cons of reality TV. That’s a broad category, of course, covering a wide range of shows from The Real Housewives to American Idol to Jersey Shore toProject Runway. My older daughter loves that show where they do fancy cake decorations — what’s it called?

TV is significant for happiness — if for no other reason, because of the time involved. In terms of hours, watching TV is probably the world’s most popular pastime. Among Americans, it’s the most common free-time activity – for an average of about five hours a day. It’s a source of relaxing fun.

But while television is a good servant, it’s a bad master. It can swallow up huge quantities of our lives, without much happiness bang for the buck.

Here are nine tips for keeping TV-watching a source of happiness:

1. Watch TV with someone else. We enjoy all activities more when we’re with other people, and we tend to find things funnier when we’re with other people. Use TV as an excuse to get together. Sports TV, awards TV, and competition TV, in particular, are a lot more fun to watch with other people. In fact, you can even…

2. Use TV as a bridge. If you’re having trouble connecting with someone – your sweetheart or your teenager, say — try joining that person when he or she is watching TV (even if football or Top Chef isn’t necessarily your favorite). Watching TV is companionable, you share an experience, you can comment on the action here and there for a bit of conversation…it’s a way of showing someone that you want his or her company and engaging in a low-key, pleasant, undemanding way. One of my resolutions is to Enter into the interests of other people, and lately I’ve been trying to show a greater interest in SpongeBob.

3. Record shows. Recording shows allows you to use your time more efficiently. You can skip the commercials and watch a particular show according to your own schedule and mood. Also, interaction with actual real live people is the most important element to happiness, so you don’t want to leave your friend’s house early because you need to get home to catch a show.

4. Don’t record shows. Anticipation is an important aspect of happiness. Looking forward to a certain day and time so will heighten the pleasure you’ll take in your favorite show. And it’s fun to think that you’re sitting down at the same time with people across the country to see what’s next for those crazy kids on Vampire Diaries. Also, you’ll be able to enjoy reading about it right away (see #5), without worrying about spoilers.

5. Enjoy the commercials. This is particularly easy if you rarely watch TV. An enormous amount of ingenuity and creativity goes into commercials, and they can be fascinating if you pay attention.

Those are just for starters.  Check out the rest. And happy TV-watching.

  • Rudy

    6. Turn it off.


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