Are you the kind of person who’s more likely to spend a Sunday afternoon engaging in chores and catching up on work, or at boozy brunch with your closest friends? More or less, we can all be split into two groups; Those motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and those who prefer to secure their long-term welfare. A new study has attempted to understand the motivation between these two conflicting philosophies.

Our likeliness to live in the moment or prepare for the future is not a permanent feature of our personality and changes according to our mood at the moment. The study revealed that when a person is in a good mood, they are more likely to do housework and other unpleasant yet useful activities over the next few hours than when they are in a bad mood. When feeling bad, people tend to choose activities later that day that are more pleasurable, such as playing sports and spending time with friends, apparently in an effort to feel better.

happiness This is why people sacrifice short-term happiness for long-term welfare. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

To arrive at this conclusion, an international team of researchers collected data on the moods and activities of 30,000 people over the course of about a month using a smartphone application, Medical Xpress reported. Soon a clear connection between one's mood and the type of activity they choose to do began to emerge.

"Using this data, we showed that people are a lot more long-term-oriented than previously thought, truly 'managing' their mood through their choice of activities," said co author Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Medical Xpress reported. "This shows, using big data, how we humans routinely sacrifice our short-term happiness for our long-term welfare."

According to the research, not only are these findings important in helping us better understand our personal psychology, but they also give insight into how we survived as a species. For example, there are pros and cons to only living in the moment and only preparing for the future. Being able to adjust between these two philosophies based on your mood helped our ancestors maintain peak mental and physical health, which may have eventually allowed for the proliferation of our species.

Source: Taquet M, Quoidbach J, de Montjoye YA, Desseilles M, Gross JJ. Hedonism and the choice of everyday activities. PNAS . 2016

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