Procrastinating on Happiness

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“Never do today what you can put off ’til tomorrow.” —Aaron Burr, Jr.

I know a bunch of procrastinators that seem to live by Burr’s words. And yet, why would anyone want to delay leading a happy, fulfilling life? It turns out we don’t put off achieving happiness intentionally, but it is a by-product of the all too common ‘I’ll be happy when’  mindset. You know, when people think that they’ll achieve a greater level of satisfaction when they:

  1. Get married
  2. Find a boyfriend/girlfriend
  3. Receive a much anticipated promotion
  4. Lose weight…

The list goes on.

Also known as the arrival fallacy, this mindset actually produces much less satisfaction than expected because people have primed themselves for the achievement and it is already factored into their general state of happiness. When a person hits the longed-for target, they realize there’s something else they really want to achieve. And then the cycle begins again because they believe that achieving the next goal will make them happy. In this scenario, happiness becomes the illusive acorn Scrat chases in Ice Age.

As importantly, the I’ll be happy when mindset produces at least two additional by-products. You:

  1. Seek happiness from without rather than within (a surefire way to fail at improving your well-being), and;
  2. Forget to appreciate the wonderful things (big and little) that happen day-by-day

 

And now for an admission. Like most people, I have taken Burr’s quote out of context.

“Never do today what you can put off ’til tomorrow. Delay may give a clearer light as to what is best to be done.” —Aaron Burr, Jr.

Burr’s suggesting that we should not make decisions too hastily. And that’s another discussion about when (and when not to) use the rational brain vs. the emotional brain.

 

2 thoughts on “Procrastinating on Happiness

    • Wow, that’s a very interesting (and amusing) article. So Geoff… I’ll share if you will. Are you a positive procrastinator?

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