[The subject of this post seemed very appropriate for the last day of the 30 Day Blog Challenge as you’ll see by the end.]
Almost everyone wants to be happier. But unfortunately the things that make us happy today become habitual and lose their ability to lift our moods – a phenomenon called hedonic adaptation.
Gratitude exercises can often help us to overcome this adaptation. But there’s an even more powerful technique for increasing happiness discovered by Dr Jaime L. Kurtz. I describe her research below.
She got together 67 students from the University of Virginia who were about 6 weeks away from graduating. She divided them into three groups.
One group was to write about why they are grateful for various college experiences given that they have “a lot of time left.”
Another group was told to write why they are grateful for various college experiences given that they have “little time left.”
A third control group was told to write about what they do on a typical day.
At the end of the study the group that wrote about gratitude from the perspective of having little time left was happier.
One reason may be that they savored the remaining experience of college more. Another reason may be even more powerful. They actually engaged in more college activities during those final weeks.
Kurtz concluded that thinking that those last 6 weeks was a short time caused them to have a “now or never” mindset. So they spent more time with friends and did more activities because they knew they wouldn’t get a chance later. In short, the lived the end of their college life to the fullest.
And this may be why they were so much happier than the other groups.
So to increase your enjoyment of life experiences focus on the fact that they will one day end. Think about how little time you have left to do something and not only will you appreciate it more, but you may take actions that you’d regret not having taken later on.
So since this is the end of this post, and the end of me posting every day for the Thirty Day Blog Challenge, why not leave me a comment. You might be glad you did.
Reference to study above:
Psychological Science 2008 Dec;19(12):1238-41.
Looking to the future to appreciate the present: the benefits of perceived temporal scarcity. Kurtz JL.