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05 Jun

Boost your mood before doing what’s difficult

Datum: 2017-06-05 12:04

Have you noticed how we tend to do the tasks that are fun, easy and enjoy­able rather than those that are more dif­fi­cult, demand­ing and nec­es­sary when we are not feel­ing great? This strat­e­gy might work on occa­sion, but it is not the best way to go in the long-run.

In a sim­i­lar way, we tend to take the bull by its horns (and do that dif­fi­cult task need­ing to get done) with­out com­plain­ing on days when we feel good.

Well­be­ing makes us choose the valuable
It seems this cor­re­la­tion holds true. The researchers Taquet, Quiod­bach and Des­seilles did a study in 2016 from which they con­clud­ed that:

  • When we are not feel­ing great, we tend to choose to do things that make us feel bet­ter — imme­di­ate­ly and short-term.

  • When we are feel­ing good, we tend to do things that might not be that pleas­ant in the short-run, but which are valu­able to us in the long-run.

Mak­ing it easy to do some­thing difficult
I find these results very intrigu­ing, so allow me to some­what bold­ly apply them to our every­day lives. 

Some­thing I per­son­al­ly tend to feel reluc­tance towards is doing some­thing in a com­plete­ly new way, mean­ing estab­lish­ing a new habit. The thresh­old to doing how we usu­al­ly do things is so much low­er, and it is tempt­ing to just go ahead and fall back into old tracks.

But, if we do what we can to feel good” first, it will be eas­i­er to accept and imple­ment the new method, and hence faster achieve what we aimed for when decid­ing to estab­lish the habit in the first place — which in this case is to refine our structure.

Most of us will soon get some time off over Christ­mas. Per­haps this is the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to do the things that make us feel good, and which we might not have time or the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do when our hec­tic every­day lives spin at top speed.

Do this
If you want to,

  1. Decide to imple­ment a new struc­ture habit when you get back after the Christ­mas holidays.

  2. Take a few min­utes right now, before Christ­mas, to think about what activ­i­ties or things that make you feel good and which you could do dur­ing your vaca­tion — things that will gen­uine­ly lift your spir­its. I have an idea; make a list! Per­son­al­ly, I like doing the fol­low­ing to increase my wellbeing:
    • Sleep­ing, get­ting up ear­ly and stay­ing up real­ly late, so I will do all of those (but not on the same night)
    • Eat­ing a num­ber of dif­fer­ent dish­es, but not to the extent that I feel over­ly full and bloated
    • Exchange ideas and have long con­ver­sa­tions with some­one I care for
    • Build things that are fun and/​or some­how useful
    • Read care­ful­ly select­ed books and watch movies I have want­ed to see for a long time
    • Being active out­side on sun­ny days and tak­ing naps in the afternoons
    • … and many oth­er things

  3. Dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days, do what you need to and feel good doing, but only if you want and need it. Be care­ful not to make this into anoth­er project and start check­ing items off this list of well­be­ing-enhanc­ing activ­i­ties, instead of sim­ply enjoy­ing them.

Make a new effort after New Years
If all goes well and you use the time you have over Christ­mas to do things you enjoy, you will feel lighter and hap­pi­er when you get back to work than you are feel­ing right now as the year is draw­ing to a close. If we are to trust the results indi­cat­ed in the study, you might feel more prone to get crack­ing on those some­what stren­u­ous things that are not fun right now but which will ben­e­fit you in the long-run, such as imple­ment­ing your new struc­ture habit, when you get back to work in a good mood.

What is your plan?
What are some of your favorite things to do when you have time off, that always reju­ve­nates you and make you return to work with a smile on your face and filled with ener­gy? Please share in a com­ment below! All ideas on how we can feel bet­ter are welcome.