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Are you one of those people that puts off vacations? Going to that fancy restaurant for the exact, right fancy occasion? Opening that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for the appropriate, equally special event to occur in your life?
Apparently, putting of such things is not good for finding happiness, or being happy in general. And, apparently, one of the things we humans tend to be really good at, is pushing happiness further and further off into the future, such that this future becomes so distant it never arrives, and its imagined, corresponding happiness never materializes.
John Tierney’s fascinating article in the New York Times science section, “Carpe Diem? Maybe Tomorrow,” discusses just this topic, claiming that, “For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Year’s resolution: Have fun … now!” Psychologists have recently begun “to explore the strange impulse to put off until tomorrow what could be enjoyed today.”
The warning is basically the following: “Once you start procrastinating pleasure, it can become a self-perpetuating process if you fixate on some imagined nirvana. The longer you wait to open that prize bottle of wine, the more special the occasion has to be.”
And the message to resolve this conundrum of ours? Be more zen about pleasure. Decide to open up that special bottle this weekend and invite friends over to make an occasion. Take that trip to the museum today, just because you can, and because you’re likely to go only if you’re about to move away from the city or have guests visiting who want to go. Have a great dress? Throw a party to wear it.
My lesson/resolution from this? I’ve been talking about going back to Italy for YEARS. No wait, DECADES. The last time I went, was, well, um, ninth grade. I keep saying I’m going to go. I keep waiting for the “right opportunity.” Maybe it’s just time, here and now. Otherwise, I might never go, right?
What happiness have you been putting off all year? And how can you do a better job finding happiness in 2010?

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