What To Do When You Are At Your Happiest

People routinely engage in mood-increasing activities (e.g., play sports) when they feel bad, as explained by the hedonic principle i.e. humans prefer activities that minimize negative affect and maximize positive ones.

A new study reported in the The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences challenges the old belief about humans, being mere constant pleasure-seekers. Researchers say we are likely to voluntarily go for unpleasant tasks such as household chores, thus the need to seek uplifting activities when we’re in bad mood. The finding on “flexible hedonism” says your mood may be the best predictor of when it’s best to handle unpleasant tasks.

Although our data cannot directly tell us whether regularly engaging in unpleasant activities predicts psychological and social adjustment five or 10 years down the line, a large body of work has consistently demonstrated the importance of sleeping, employment, and living in a reasonably clean and organized home on mental and physical health, researchers said.

According to the study authors, led by Maxime Taquet of Harvard and Jordi Quoidbach of the University Pompeu Fabra in Spain, who studied mood and activity data collected from more than 28,000 people. The connection between mood and activities stays i.e. moods affect the decisions about what activities to do next.

People’s current mood meaningfully changes (sometimes doubling or tripling) the probability they later engage in certain types of activity, the authors concluded.

This study hereby suggests that “our personal well-being and survival potential as a species might crucially depend on our ability to overcome the allure of short-term happiness gains to maximize long-term welfare.”

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These findings are relevant for the renewed exploration of psychedelic psychotherapy, which are being developed for depression and other mental illnesses. The effects of LSD on language can result in a cascade of associations that allow quicker access to far away concepts stored in the mind.”

- This post is based on reports provided by New York Magazine and Ars Technica.
Maxime Taquet, et al. Hedonism and the choice of everyday activities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1519998113

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