A new study published in the journal Psychological Science has found that people have "two concurrent, yet paradoxical and conflicting, desires: They (a) dread idleness and desire busyness, but (b) need reasons for their busyness and will not voluntarily choose busyness without some justification."
Essentially, people don't like doing nothing, but also don't like doing things for no reason. To test the competing desires of idleness and activity, researchers Christopher Hsee, Adelle Yang and Liangyan Wang asked nearly a hundred college students fill out surveys. Between surveys, participants were told either to drop off the paperwork a fifteen-minute walk away or to wait fifteen minutes doing nothing. After the fifteen minutes of activity or idleness, the participants were again surveyed, this time on their happiness over the intervening period. Those who went for the walk (the busier option) were happier. A second test took away the component of choice, instructing some participants to remain idle and others to take the walk. The results yielded similar results, meaning regardless of volition, busyness makes one happier than idleness.
Should you think the results are dependent on the ambulatory event across campus, the results were matched by another test involving taking apart or not taking apart a trinket. Most intriguing, the researchers add, "even a specious justification can motivate people to be busy." This is somewhat redeeming for low-level busyness, or "futile busyness" as it is called in the report, which serves "no purpose other than to prevent idleness." While such intentional industry, even when impotent, may make you happier, the drive toward idleness remains strong, the study says.
The study concludes by speculating on the application of paternalism in providing such specious justification. "Governments," the study speculates, "may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless." The researchers say, "some such interventions already exist," noting a study that "Airports have tried to increase the happiness (or reduce the unhappiness) of passengers waiting at the baggage carousel by increasing the distance between the gate and the baggage claim area, forcing them to walk far rather than wait idly."
International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.
Discover the holistic and all-encompassing philosophies of the ancient East.
- Taoist philosophy teaches its adherents the paradoxical action of non-action.
- Over three thousand years ago, the I Ching conceptualized binary code and influenced major asian religions
- Ram Dass and Herman Hesse synthesized western scientific and philosophic views with traditional eastern religions to inform their teachings.
An MIT study predicts when artificial intelligence will take over for humans in different occupations.
While technology develops at exponential speed, transforming how we go about our everyday tasks and extending our lives, it also offers much to worry about. In particular, many top minds think that automation will cost humans their employment, with up to 47% of all jobs gone in the next 25 years. And chances are, this number could be even higher and the massive job loss will come earlier.
One way to limit clutter is by being mindful of your spending.
- Overbuyers are people who love to buy — they stockpile things as a result. These are individuals who are prone to run out of space in trying to store their stuff and they may even lose track of what — and how much of what — they have.
- One way overbuyers can limit their waste, both money and space wise, is by storing items at the store, and then buy them when they really need them.
- Underbuyers tend to go to extraordinary lengths to not buy things. They save money and do fewer errands, however, they often make do with shabby personal items. They may also, when they finally decide to go out to buy a product, go without entirely because the item may no longer be available.
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