WE give in to temptations sometimes – buying things we do not necessarily need, indulging on comfort foods we know could compromise our health or we play at the casino knowing that there’s more to lose than winning.
A new study said giving in to temptation every now and again leads to a happier, more successful and more satisfied life.
Psychologists called this act of pursuing pleasure and sensual self-indulgence, hedonism. They believed that hedonism is the highest good and proper aim of human life.
Of course, having a little hedonism might not be the same as fulfilling a long-term life goal, but it does make life more fulfilling and fun.
In fact, they said that it is wrong to think that the only route to a happy life is years of self-control in order to, for example, stay healthy or make money.
This is because the capacity to experience pleasure and enjoyment is a sign of leading a satisfied and happy life overall.
For example, splurging on a good meal, or painting the town red might not make you live longer or become richer — but it can make you happier.
But they still believe that though self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism or short term pleasure.
During their survey among people from all walks of life, they found that some people set out to lose weight, do more sport or improve their mind — but when relaxing they end up worrying about whether they should be doing those things instead.
Moreover, their sense of wellbeing was lower than those who managed to switch off and enjoy themselves without thinking about what they should be doing instead.
The findings suggested that people who can enjoy life's little pleasures are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, because they can have fun without worrying about the consequences.
Would you chose to have fun today and never worry anything unless you cross the bridge later, psychologists said there should be balance — being able to work towards long term goals while also being able to not feel guilty when taking time out to go for a drink, have a slap up meal or simply sit in front of the TV with a takeaway pizza.
They said that the pursuit of hedonistic and long-term goals needn't be in conflict with one another. They can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life.
“It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option, but really enjoying one's hedonic choice isn't actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts,” they said.
They added that their findings also apply to worrying about work when trying to relax — a common issue in this high tech age where it has become harder to switch off.
The solution: plan downtime and set limits on the amount of time spent working, having fun or advancing longer term goals.