Posted on Jul 28, 2020, 7 p.m.
Hedonism may be the key to living a happier life, according to a new study that suggests those who take the time for hedonism are living happier lives and suffer less depression.
Life can be trying and busy, between work, school, family and friends it can seem like you always have something to do. This study suggests that if you have a lot of self control it might be time to rethink your busy lifestyle.
According to Katharina Bernecker from the University of Zurich most psychology experts believe that self control is key to having a successful life, it helps to prioritize long term goals and responsibilities over spontaneous pleasures and diversions. While all that self control might help to keep your life in order, this study argues that seeking pleasure and self indulgence can positively impact your wellbeing.
“It’s time for a rethink,” Bernecker says in a university release. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.”
Co-author Daniela Becker of Radboud University and Bernecker used a survey to evaluate how easy it is for individuals to pursue short term pleasures; the questionnaires also tried to link successful hedonistic moments to a person’s well being.
Findings show that even for those who had time to find a moment for bliss, as it turns out, a person can be easily distracted with responders reporting that reminders of their real life tended to creep into their thoughts while they were relaxing or having fun.
“For example, when lying on the couch you might keep thinking of the sport you are not doing,” Becker explains. “Those thoughts about conflicting long-term goals undermine the immediate need to relax.”
Those who reported getting to fully enjoy themselves experienced a higher sense of well being, the authors note that these people are also less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as well as other long term mental health conditions.
The authors suggest that one of the takeaways from their study is that people need to find a better balance in their lives because trying to squeeze in that lavish meal or a night out won’t keep the mind from dwelling on any unfinished business.
“Really enjoying one’s hedonic choice isn’t actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts,” Bernecker adds.
Another study recently published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin finds that there is another issue that is also distracting people from pursuing hedonic activities, that being this outbreak. With more people working from home, job stress is likely to be invading the space in which most people do the bulk of relaxing.
"Thinking of the work you still need to do can lead to more distracting thoughts at home, making you less able to rest," says Bernecker.
Self control may actually help to keep work stress from invading the pursuit of hedonism. If you actively plan when you will be turning off all of the outside distractions and set limits to the periods of enjoyment, this could create a clearing that will separate work from pleasure, and this will help to make your trips into hedonism more enjoyable.
"It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option," says Bernecker. "But really enjoying one's hedonic choice isn't actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts."
"The pursuit of hedonic and long-term goals needn't be in conflict with one another," says Bernecker. "Our research shows that both are important and can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life."
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.