For those who don’t get the channel, HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television. It’s a seemingly harmless cable channel that airs programs on buying homes, renovating homes, re-decorating homes, and looking at other people’s homes. So you might be wondering: What’s wrong with the programming? Do the shows cause ordinary people to destroy their homes by making them think they can do their own home improvement projects? Do the professional designers who host the show lure folks into re-decorating their home in ghastly new ways?
While in some cases, the shows do cause these problems for most viewers those are not the real danger of the channel. Let me give you an example.
The long-running show House Hunters is probably the best example of the problem. The show, which started airing in 1999, follows a potential home buyer as a realtor shows them three potential properties that fit their needs. You go inside the houses with the buyer and look around just as if you were seeing the property yourself. Then, the buyer considers the different properties and chooses one. The show usually ends with a return to the buyer a few months later who is happily preparing a party in his or her new home.
Nothing seems wrong with the program on its surface but it’s the reaction it creates in the audience that can be a problem. It’s hard not to watch episodes of House Hunters or most HGTV programs without starting to look around your home and notice how crappy it is. Your carpet is flat, your wall coloring is boring, your windows don’t let in enough light, your bathroom floor isn’t heated, your appliances aren’t stainless steel, you don’t have enough storage, and your landscaping has seen better days.
And the problem isn’t just HGTV. The Travel Channel, for example, makes you feel bad about not being in another location. The Food Network makes you feel bad about what you serve for dinner. When you’re watching the shows for entertainment, it’s hard not to also feel that where you live and how you live are inferior to the homes, vacations, and dinners of other people.
That’s why HGTV and its sister channels are dangerous. Part of our happiness comes from being content with our lives. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive for change or improvement but if you’re always unhappy with your current situation then you’re always looking for happiness in the next house, the next car, the next meal, the next travel spot. And, you know what? You will be looking for happiness that way forever because the “next” one won’t make you happy either. Until you learn to find contentment with what you have and where you are, nothing you dream about having or work towards achieving will make you happy.
If you want some tips on how to find that happiness, click here to download some additional strategies.