Busy equals happy

People seem to be running everywhere these days. The phrase “time poor” has become so overused that it should be just taken for granted. We should only mention it if we have oodles of time on our hands, otherwise a state of chronological poverty will be assumed. Why is it though that we are persistently looking for something to “do”? Could it be that our happiness is connected to being active?

This is a question that was investigated by researchers who believed that there may be a deep cause behind our avoidance of idleness. For the study subjects completed a survey and then were told that they had to wait fifteen minutes before the next survey would be ready. They were given the option to either hand in the first survey and simply wait the fifteen minutes or drop the survey off at a location that farther away. If they took the second option the walking to and fro would occupy the fifteen minutes.

Whatever option they chose, the subjects would receive a sweet when they handed in their survey. Subjects were then assessed as to how happy they were feeling.

Those who chose to go to the distant location to hand in their survey were found to feel happier than those who stayed idle.

Interestingly, if the two sweets offered at the far and close locations were the same, people tended to choose to remain idle. If the two sweets were different then people were more likely to choose the distant location presumably because they could justify making the trip to themselves. So what does this all mean?

The researchers concluded that people like being busy if given the choice and they like being able to justify being busy. As populations swell and in uncertain economic times when unemployment can rise it points to a few future priorities. As a society we can look to providing meaningful, constructive work for people who are not otherwise employed; not labour camps but occupation options. If we do this we may have an avenue to increase the happiness of the individual at the same time as improving our society and our planet.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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