A University of Maryland study of 30 years worth of national data confirmed that watching television may provide temporary pleasure, but lead to long-term depression while socializing with friends and reading lead to longer term happiness.
The study also found a direct correlation between watching TV and times of economic crisis (e.g. now), with many people turning towards TV for temporary relief and quick bits of pleasure in the form of a sitcom, movie or constant flow of news.
Another interesting self-defeating detail that the study uncovered was that unhappy people tended to find TV more enjoyable than happy people; clarifying the problem that unhappy people are mostly unhappy due to the amount of TV they watch, but found it to be more enjoyable… prompting them to watch more of it.
I think the net-net of this study, if you zoom out to the 10,000 ft view of the situation… is that people who stay inside their comfort zones and rarely ever wander out of them, are categorically unhappier than people that are constantly changing the scenery, trying new things and spending time socializing or learning (reading).
Common sense would tell us this is the difference between a couch potato and someone that would be described as “outgoing” or “loving life”; I’m not too surprised here, I know very few couch potatoes that ever do anything out of the ordinary and they usually have plenty to complain about and very little they think is fantastic.