Oh Really?

December 13, 2008

Haven’t done one of these for a while, but sometimes one comes along that is irresistible. Are you ready for this earth shattering revelation? John P. Robinson and Steven Martin are the happy sociologists from the University of Maryland who were given real money by apparently sane people to find out what activities contribute most to a happy life.

Now lots of people have already written many books on this subject, but as always there is still more to learn. They ploughed through the diaries of over 30,000 adults over a 30 year period and analysed what they did and how pleasurable they found it.

What their research has shown them is that people who described themselves as happy were more socially active, attended more religious services and read more newspapers. Unhappy people, however, watched more television. As one of the prime symptoms of depression and unhappiness is withdrawal from the society of others this doesn’t strike me as a major breakthrough, but what do I know.

Apparently television watching provides temporary pleasure to unhappy people; but, in the long run is a waste of time and not particularly fulfilling. The others compare it to an addiction where you get momentary pleasure and long-term misery. They must have been watching Strictly Come Dancing, but they did come up with a neat catch phrase, that ‘tuning in’ can be an easy way of ‘tuning out’ so I can forgive them for making me feel like a social outcast because of my addiction to brilliant US drama series like Boston Legal and The Closer. ”

So, stun your family by letting them know that happy people read and socialize while unhappy people watch TV. If that doesn’t get them playing charades or monopoly after Christmas dinner, then nothing will.

Anyone interested in paying me to study whether breathing is a necessary evil?


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