Happiness Shouldn’t Be Postponed

The Gift-Card Economy
Virginia Postrel, The Atlantic, May 2009, pg. 28

In this fascinating article, Virginia Postrel explores the “all-too-familiar inner conflict between the would-be disciplined self who wants to get up early, exercise, and lose weight and the pleasure-seeking self who prefers to sleep in, watch TV, and eat chocolate.”

Marketers aren’t the only people who can benefit from the research of behavioral economists; individuals can internalize these lessons to increase their own happiness.

Shu and Gneezy found in surveys (as we all know from our own experiences) that tourists with limited time are more likely to visit local attractions than are residents, who presumably can go whenever they want. In fact, residents tend to make their tourist-like visits when they have out-of-town guests or when they’re about to move away. With no immediate reason to hit nearby landmarks, locals put off for tomorrow what they might enjoy today.

A Saturday at the museum sounds great until you have to leave your errands undone and find a place to park. You wind up sticking to your routine, even though you’d be happier breaking it.

Does this mean I should stop procrastinating another visit to Acadia?

Related post:

Gift Cards
Brent Danley, The Rhetoric, November 27, 2007

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