We’re always seeking something better.
Something nicer, faster, newer, sleeker, bigger.
Something more. Something else. Some thing.
The remote control made this search easier than ever: we can navigate a thousand channels without leaving the couch, flipping through channel after channel until we find something more desirable. But we don’t know what we’re searching for. So we persist.
Television isn’t the only place we “channel surf”: we dig through every aspect of our lives—food, relationships, entertainment, work—hoping to unearth anything other than what’s in front of us.
Our problem is, in a world of unlimited choices, there actually is always something better somewhere. So, even when we pinpoint something we enjoy, it’s never enough, and we yearn for something superior. It’s consumerism’s paradox: that which makes us happy soon brings us discontent.
The key to overcoming this cycle is simple: we must be happy with the channel we’re watching. If we’re not, we should change the channel. But once we locate a station we like, we should stick with it, enjoy it a while, and let go of the need to endlessly pursue the happiness that’s already in front of us. We can enjoy this life in this moment, and eventually the channel will change on its own.