Just as Daniel Gilbert discovered in Stumbling on Happiness that we aren’t adept at knowing how happy we will be in the future, Gal Zauberman and John G. Lynch found that we get it wrong about how much free time we’ll have. They dryly dub this effect, “Resource Slack.”
In the future, individuals in their study accurately assumed that money would be tight yet assumed, wrongly, they’d create more free time.
Sometimes we just attempt to fool ourselves into thinking we will feel differently in the future than we do currently – or that we will act differently.
Lesson to learn from this?
Let’s not delude ourselves. Every day carve out some time for fun with those you hold dear. Schedule it. As Gretchen Rubin found as a mother of young girls, “the days are long but the years are short.” And they seem to get shorter each year one gets older.
We may have a set point for happiness – a “hedonic thermostat” to which we will return after horrific or wonderful things have happened to us. Yet we can change our habits, starting small. If not daily, could you imagine planning a playtime with friends at least once a week? Promise yourself and plan the time you’ll ask friends out.
Come Out and Play… More Often
That’s the chapter heading for the bigger life I am giving myself next year. Rather than Press Play on a computer screen get out and play. Confession: I already started on this PLAY Pledge in August and have kept it so far, enjoying time with new and old friends.
As Anais Nin wrote, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”