Deciding what to do with one’s time is one of the most fundamental choices humans face every day—a choice that has crucial consequences both for individuals and society at large. Our findings demonstrate that people’s everyday decisions regarding which activities to undertake are directly linked to how they feel and follow a remarkably consistent pattern. People seek mood-enhancing activities when they feel bad and engage in unpleasant activities that might promise longer-term payoff when they feel good.
Opportunities to indulge in short-term pleasure are all around us—from our favorite hobbies to our favorite ice cream. Our personal well-being and survival potential as a species might crucially depend on our ability to overcome the allure of short-term happiness gains to maximize long-term welfare.
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