Thursday, March 16, 2017

Well-being increased by imagining time as scarce.

You have surely heard the homilies "Live each day as if it were your last." or "Would you be doing what you are doing now if you knew you had only a year to live?" Lyubomirsky and colleagues do a simple experiment:
We explored a counterintuitive approach to increasing happiness: Imagining time as scarce. Participants were randomly assigned to try to live this month (LTM) like it was their last in their current city (time scarcity intervention; n = 69) or to keep track of their daily activities (neutral control; n = 70). Each group reported their activities and their psychological need satisfaction (connectedness, competence, and autonomy) weekly for 4 weeks. At baseline, post-intervention, and 2-week follow-up, participants reported their well-being – a composite of life satisfaction, positive emotions, and negative emotions. Participants in the LTM condition increased in well-being over time compared to the control group. Furthermore, mediation analyses indicated that these differences in well-being were explained by greater connectedness, competence, and autonomy. Thus, imagining time as scarce prompted people to seize the moment and extract greater well-being from their lives.

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