New research suggests that people feel a sense of satisfaction when they are doing something, regardless of what that something is. In the past, psychologists have geared their research toward finding specific achievements or goals that gave people a sense of fulfillment when they strived to attain them. However, these new findings indicate that people are just as satisfied when they are engaging in any activity, good or bad. The emphasis on life purpose does not appear to be as significant as reaching a certain level of activity.
Lead author of the article, Doroes Albarracin, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign began to notice that Americans showed a much higher level of general activity relative to people in other countries. “People have this inclination to do more, even if what they do is trivial,” said Albarracin. She has also studied the effects of cognitive activity on physical activity. For example, when she encouraged people to think about exercising and engaging in physical activity, the test subjects actually became more inclined to get involved with political activities.
People have a strong desire to engage in any type of activity, as long as it keeps them busy. They naturally strive to achieve a comfortable level of activity based on their needs for fulfillment. However, reaching and maintaining this level does not always mean that people will engage in healthy activities. Often people will engage in unhealthy behaviors and activities in order to fulfill their desired level. Experts have “the idea that people have these highly specific goals,” Albarracin says. “But quite often some significant proportion of our time is engaged in this global level – we want to do something, but what we do ends up not mattering much. You could end up with productive behavior, like work, or impulsive behavior, like drug use.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.