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Jennifer Aaker on how to increase happiness and meaning in life:

Jennifer Aaker on how to increase happiness and meaning in life


Stashed in: Time, @bakadesuyo, Meaning of Life, Psychology!, Happiness, @aaker, Give and Take

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Eric Barker interviews Jennifer Aaker on the relationship between time and happiness:

A lot of research has examined the relationship between money and happiness (see an excellent new book by Liz Dunn and Mike Norton called Happy Money), but there is less work on the relationship between happiness and time.  Yet time is one of the most important resources we have, and there are many reasons to think that a deeper examination of how we spend time might move us closer to the elusive goal of improving happiness.  One reason is because time, relative to money, tends to be laden with personal meaning. Another reason is that time fosters interpersonal connection (see Cassie Mogilner’s 2011 paper in Psychological Science).  Since both personal meaning and social connection are critical to happiness, it makes sense that how individuals spend their time may shed light on the happiness puzzle.   As a result, Cassie Mogilner, Melanie Rudd, and I ask the question – can we rethink how we’re using time?  The main premise of that Journal of Consumer Psychology paper is to suggest that, if we rethink how we spend time, and be more intentional on how we spend time (with whom and on what activities) – that may impact the happiness we feel.  

More recently, I am also exploring whether we can maximize time, expand time, and design time more proactively (rather than passively).  For example, if people are asked to monitor how they are actually spending their time, and then later rate themselves on a variety of measures including how happy they feel, the results show that people who spend more time on projects that energize them and with people who energize them tend to be happier.  However, what is interesting is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to spend their time and how they actually spend their time.  For example, if you ask people to list the projects that energize (vs. deplete) them, and what people energize (vs. deplete them), and then monitor how they actually spend their time, you find a large percentage know what projects and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects and with those people. 

Taking an inventory about where you’re spending your time is revealing.   And then once you identify the activities and people with whom you want to spend more time, calendaring your time thoughtfully becomes critical.  When you put something on a calendar, you’re more likely to actually do that activity – partly because you’re less likely to have to make an active decision whether you should do it – because it’s already on your calendar. For example, if working out is important to you but you find yourself skipping your workout far too often, calendar time for the workout in the same way you might calendar business meetings.  When you make these dates with yourself, you don’t have to actively ask yourself, should I go work out?  If it is on your calendar, your behavior is more automatic and consequently you are more likely to spend time on activities that you know are good for you.

More of the interview here:

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