What happy individuals do not do

Happy people spend a lot of their time socializing and getting involved with various causes, but definitely not watching television.

Happy people spend a lot of their time socializing and getting involved with various causes, but definitely not watching television.

The majority of large studies on happiness have focused on the demographic characteristics of happy individuals, such as age and marital status. The researchers who lead a recent study tried instead to identify what activities happy individuals engage in. Even though people do not describe themselves as being fulfilled by watching television, this activity is actually the only one to which happy people devote very little time. The data for this study was gathered mainly from the answers provided by more than 45,000 Americans, who recorded their daily activities on time journals over a period of 35 years.

The researchers chose between eight and ten activities to which happy people devote their time, such as visiting relatives or going to church for example. They noted a link between doing these activities regularly and people’s level of happiness. The more individuals engaged in these activities, the more they described themselves as being happy. The sole activity for which an opposite relation was observed was the time spent in front of the small screen. Unhappy individuals watched more television than happy people did.

However, this observational study was unable to determine which one was the chicken, and which one was the egg. Is it that unhappy people watch more television, or is it that being glued to the small screen does in fact make people unhappy? Regardless of the answer, it would seem that in the long run, spending a lot of time in front of the television set hinders happiness.

And what about you, do you watch a lot of television? Have you thought of replacing one or two evenings in front of the television by a night out with friends, taking a night class of some kind, or simply taking a long walk? Getting out of the house and interacting people may be just what the doctor ordered to do away with the blues!

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