Vanishing time in the pursuit of happiness
Happiness can be conceptualized as a positive affective state or as a goal whose pursuit ironically pulls the pursuer away from achieving it (Mauss, Tamir, Anderson, & Savino in Emotion, 11(4), 807–815, 2011). But how do people think about time during this latter, never-ending pursuit of happiness? The present investigation asks how seeking happiness influences perceptions of time availability. Four studies demonstrated that trait-level happiness seeking (Study 1) as well as direct manipulation of happiness seeking (Studies 2, 3, and 4) consistently reveal the same pattern: reduced feelings of time availability while pursuing happiness. This negative effect on time availability is mitigated when happiness seems like it has been achieved (Study 2) or seems quick to achieve (Study 3). In addition, pursuing happiness can ultimately decrease happiness, in part, by reducing perceptions of time availability (Study 4), extending theories on happiness, goal pursuit, and perceptions of time.
KeywordsHappiness Time Goal pursuit Well-being
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