06 Dec You might be surprised with how happy people choose to spend their time
via BusinessInsider by Erin Brodwin
Indulging in a piece of chocolate cake. Meeting up with your best friends for drinks. Going for a hike in the wilderness.
We like doing things that feel good because, well, they feel good. It’s something psychologists call the “hedonic principle.” Basically, the principle goes, we try to do pleasurable things whenever possible and avoid un-pleasurable things whenever we can.
Given our pleasure-seeking track record, it’s pretty remarkable that any of us actually gets anything done.
So remarkable, in fact, that social scientists have hotly debated the question for decades. After all, if all we want to do is enjoy ourselves, how do we commit to mind-numbing chores like doing the laundry or challenging tasks like finishing a work project? More importantly, if all we seek is pleasure, then why do some of us spend such a large proportion of our lives unhappy?
A new study published August 15 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences takes a pretty big step towards answering it. The researchers found that, contrary to popular belief, we actually don’t spend all of our time going after activities that make us feel good. In fact, it’s at times when we’re feeling our best that we tend to gravitate towards doing the least-pleasurable tasks on our lists, like laundry and chores. So maybe we forego things that will make us feel happy immediately (like happy hour) for duller things that have the potential to make us feel satisfied in the long-term (like housework).
The finding could have big takeaways for our understanding of happiness and motivation. “Our positive emotion, perhaps, can be seen as a resource,” Dr. Jordi Quoidbach, one of the study’s lead authors and a psychology professor at Barcelona’s University Pompeu Fabra, told Business Insider. “When we don’t have enough, we need to replenish it, but as soon as we have enough, we can potentially use that to get things done.”
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