TV News and the Pursuit of Happiness: What's the key
By Rebecca Coates Nee
September 3rd, 2001
The Dalai Lama and I don't have too much in common (although
I do have a nice beige over the shoulder number), but we're
both trying to teach the same mysterious concept: how to get
He's working on it with world leaders; I'm coaching former
and current broadcasters on the lost art. Sometimes I think
my mission is tougher.
Although many TV types will tell you they love what they do,
broadcasting is a career with enough highs and lows to make
Disney's Matterhorn look like a molehill. So, do the ups and
downs average out to overall happiness? Unfortunately, it
just doesn't work that way.
The August issue of the New Scientist magazine quotes Ed Diener
- a University of Illinois professor on "subjective well being"
- as saying a steady mid-range of happiness is preferable
to quick shots of joy. "We're built to be positive, but not
to be stuck in a kind of euphoria," says Diener. The professor
has found the happiest people are Hispanic because they tend
to look at what's going right.
People from Asian countries are the least happy because they
base their actions on the thoughts of others instead of their
own. Ah ha. Do the words consultants and ratings ring a bell?
Not only do broadcasters have to mold their hair, clothes
and mannerisms to fit "The Look," they often let external
pressures keep them from leaving the business even when it's
way past their prime time to go. "Will anyone still love me
if I'm nobody?" they wonder.
We all must conform to a certain degree - and live up to societal
expectations. But the real secret to happiness is to stop
suffering. Yep. That's it. Stop suffering. If you're miserable
in your job, change it. If you don't like your relationship,
dump it, get counseling or adjust your attitude.
So many people think happiness is a destination but if you
don't take it with you on the journey - you'll never find
it. Happiness is a decision, not a place. So is it possible
to "do news" and be happy?
It is if you learn how to balance your life, keep working
to find and accomplish your life purpose and - remember to
have some fun. In fact, Diener says the majority of people
in the West are mostly happy. Except for one group. "I find
it interesting that reporters, especially those from New York
City cannot believe that," notes Diener. "I don't know whether
reporters from the city are particularly unhappy, but they
find it fantastic when I tell them that most people are, on