Hedonism, with its ancient Greek origins, translates to pleasure and its variations. While the modern discourse attaches several negative connotations to the word, turns out that hedonism can do us some good. If a new study is to be believed, hedonism through the practice of routine or short-term pleasure-inducing activities can help one lead a happier life.
When talking about how to reach your long-term goals or do better to lead a happier life, the focus seems to be more on how to optimize methods to reach goals sooner or achieve more. The study offers a different perspective where smaller pleasure-breaks every day can help you achieve more and thus, be happier. This puts the idea of self-control in a secondary position.
“It’s time for a rethink,” says Katharina Bernecker, a researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.”
The participants were required to respond to a questionnaire, which was designed by the researchers to gauge their capacity for hedonism, or what they define as ‘their ability to focus on their immediate needs and indulge in and enjoy short-term pleasures.’ The goal was to understand whether the ability to pursue hedonic goals is related to well-being.
It was found that intrusive thoughts could distract some people if they are trying to pursue more pleasurable for the purpose of relaxation. However, it was people who enjoyed themselves in the moment had a better sense of well-being and less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.
While the team acknowledges the need for more research in the field, they also recommend better planning of time for pleasurable activities during the day and drawing clear boundaries between work and break time to better enjoy both. This seems even more relevant in an environment of social distancing when working from home can blur all lines.
The results of this study are published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.