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The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

TV News and the Pursuit of Happiness: What's the key to happiness?
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 happy.

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 average, happy."