Ever spent an entire day in bed and got up in the evening feeling no better off?
The evolutionary explanation for our choice of behavior is obvious, to conserve energy. A study published in July has proposed that when given the choice between doing something or not doing something we will take the lazy option near on every time. The paper published in psychological science proposes that we’d be happier if we spent the time actively than standing around, even if that activity was walking round in circles.
So far so good, yada yada. Heres where it gets fishy…. The study (ironicly conducted in a business school) reviewed a stack of research confirming the above and suggesting we live in a paradox in which:
1. We dread Idleness and crave activity
2. We need reason for activity and won’t enter in to it voluntarily
This led the authors to consider a rather startling hypothesis:
“busy people are happier than idle people, regardless of whether they choose to be busy or are forced to be busy” (Hsee et al 2010)
“people are happier when busy than when idle, even if busyness is forced upon them”
“We advocate a third kind of busyness: futile busyness, namely, busyness serving no purpose other than to prevent idleness. Such activity is more realistic than constructive busyness and less evil than destructive busyness.”It gets better…
“This is where paternalism can play a role (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008). For example, homeowners may increase the happiness of their idle housekeepers by letting in some mice and prompting the housekeepers to clean up. Governments mayincrease the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.”
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