What's Your Happiness Mindset?
Can you be fully engrossed in the present moment or do you follow your Puritan work ethic?
Are you being happy in your life? Are you being happy about your life? Can you truly immerse yourself in the ‘here and now’ or you’d rather make sacrifices to delay happiness for the sake of long-term satisfaction?
The answer to these questions depends on two main factors. Thousands of people, both Westerners and Easterners aged between 18 and 81, have been asked about their preference between experienced and remembered happiness in a series of studies recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
Experienced happiness is when you feel happy on a moment-to-moment basis. Remembered happiness, on the other hand, is being able to look back and remember a time as happy. And we’re not being too finicky here by making this distinction as the two don’t always go hand in hand. A week of late nights spent toiling away at the office may be the furthest thing from having fun, but if it leads to achieving your dreams then when you cast your mind back to it, it will make you feel happy and content. While just pottering around for a whole weekend might fill you with guilt if you look back on it later, but at those moments you thoroughly enjoyed amusing yourself with seemingly insignificant activities like watering plants, staring at passing clouds, feeding the birds and cooking some hearty dish.
The research found that people’s preferences differed according to the length of time they were considering — and according to their culture. When asked to consider longer time periods like their life overall, Western people reported wanting more happiness experienced in the moment. But when they thought about the next day or hour, it was as though a Puritan work ethic kicked in as more people seemed to be willing to give up on those moments of happiness to put the work in now to be able to look back later on this period with contentment and a sense of achievement which meant feeling happy about those hard times.
The majority of Easterners, however, chose experienced happiness over remembered happiness regardless of whether choosing for their life (81%) or their next hour (84%). The explanation, according to the researchers, is that people in China and Japan prefer experienced happiness to the remembered one due to the long religious history in Eastern cultures of teaching the value of mindfulness and appreciating each present moment.
These findings are by no means prescriptive, but you’d better think long and hard before preventing yourself from being fully immersed in the present moment for the sake of future gains, if you believe you want a life of happiness experienced in the present moment.
If you want to read the original article, click here