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.
If you want to,
- Decide to implement a new structure habit when you get back after the Christmas holidays.
- 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
- 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.