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Better busy than doing nothing, scientist proves

Posted by Wendy Zhou on 3. Aug 2010

The secret to happiness is keeping busy, research has found.

Keeping the mind occupied with tasks - no matter how meaningless - staves off negative emotions, the study found.

However, the bad news is that humans seem hard-wired to be lazy in order to save energy, according to Professor Christopher Hsee, a behavioural scientist at Chicago University.

In a study 98 students were asked to complete two surveys. After they had completed the first they were made to wait 15 minutes to receive the next one.

They were given a choice of either handing in the first survey nearby or at a more distant location they had to walk to. Whichever option they chose, they received a chocolate bar.

Two-thirds (68 per cent) chose the lazy option.

Those who had taken the walk reported feeling happier than those who had stayed put.

Prof Hsee concluded keeping busy helped keep people happy.

He said the findings, reported in the journal Psychological Science, had policy implications.

"Governments may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless", he proposed.

At the individidual level, he advised: "Get up and do something. Anything. Even if there really is no point to what you are doing, you will feel better for it."

He added: "Incidentally, thinking deeply or engaging in self-reflection counts as keeping busy, too.

"You do not need to be running around, – you just need to be engaged, either physically or mentally."

一项研究发现,快乐的秘诀就是让自己忙起来。

该研究发现,让自己有点事情可想——无论是多么没意思的事——都有助于抵制消极情绪。

然而,据芝加哥大学行为科学家奚恺元教授介绍,人类似乎生性懒惰,旨在保存精力。

研究人员让98个学生做了两项调查。这两个调查间隔15分钟。

在此期间,学生可以就近提交第一个调查的结果,或者步行至一个较远的地方递交结果。无论选择哪一种途径,他们都会获赠一块巧克力。

其中,三分之二(68%)的人选择了走近路。

但据报告,走路去递交结果的人比待在原地的人感觉更加快乐。

奚教授由此得出结论,让自己忙一点有助于保持好的心情。

该研究在《心理科学》杂志上发表。奚教授称该发现具有政策指导意义。

他建议说:“比如,政府可以让没事可做的民众建造实际上并没有什么用处的桥梁来提升他们的幸福感。”

就个人而言,他建议说:“起来干点什么吧。做什么都行。就算你所做的事情没什么实际意义,你也会因此而感到快乐。”

他说:“另外,思考或反省也是让自己动起来的一种方式。”

“你不需要东奔西跑,只需要有事情做,无论是体力上的还是脑力上的。”

 




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