For many, happiness is the ultimate goal, but actively pursuing it could be leading to opposite results. According to researchers from Rutgers University and University of Toronto, people who actively pursue happiness feel that they don’t have enough time, which is, ironically, making them unhappier, according to Science Daily.
Aekyoung Kim and Sam Maglio, from Rutgers and U of Toronto respectively, conducted four studies that examined how striving for happiness and the state of already being happy influenced people’s perception of time. In the study, a set of participants were tasked to either list down things that would make them happier or make themselves feel happier while watching a particularly dull film about building bridges. Another set of participants were assigned with listing down things that are already making them happy or viewing an enjoyable slapstick comedy.
The first set of participants was set up as those actively striving for happiness, while the second set of participants was the group that had already achieved it. Both sets of participants were asked in the end to indicate how much free time they believe they had.
The researchers discovered that a person’s state of happiness influenced their perception of how much time they had. Those who actively sought out happiness felt they had less time in the day, which resulted to them feeling unhappier. On the other hand, those who believe they have already achieved a level of happiness felt they had more time.