Monday, September 3, 2012

The secret to getting out of bed in the morning.

Good morning economists. Do you remember the feeling when you purchased your new car? Remember how happy that made you? Chances are that you were very excited for the first few months but after a while that excitement subsided. You got used to driving your car around and it lost that "new" feeling that you had when you first bought it. Chances are that after a while, you started searching for the next purchase or change in your life that would restore the feeling of excitement and happiness.

The example above is what we call the Hedonic Treadmill, namely, people are looking for some drastic change in their lives in order to boost their utility levels or satisfaction. The same principal applies for unpleasant tasks as well. People tend to avoid unpleasant tasks that may reduce their utility levels. How many of you in the morning have hit the snooze button on your alarm clocks to delay the process of getting to work or school?

Human nature forces us to procrastinate when performing unpleasant tasks and rushing into consuming items or services that bring us enjoyment. In order to be relatively happier we need to overcome this Hedonic Treadmill.

A study by Leif Nelson and Tom Meyvis showed that people can increase their utility levels of a pleasant change in their lives by extending the consumption of the good or service. Referring back to the new car feeling, their studies revealed that taking breaks from driving it can extend the feeling of excitement. Similarly, relatively unpleasant tasks, such as getting out of bed in the morning must be preferably performed without breaks. In other words, do not put yourself in the position of hitting the snooze button ten times before you finally get up. You are just maximizing the unpleasantness and decreasing your utility. Better set the alarm clock at an appropriate time and force yourself out of bed once it rings. Believe me, you will start your day in a much better mood.

How many times did you hit your snooze button today?


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