Success, in the Western world, means “gaining time,” according to French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard. The faster we do things — work, eat, sleep, read — the more time we “gain.”
But this focus on time efficiency could be making the small things in life harder to enjoy.
A trio of Canadian researchers have discovered that simply being exposed to symbols of Western society’s culture of convenience can undermine people’s ability to find pleasure in everyday joys.
“It is ironic that technologies designed to improve well-being by minimizing time spent on mundane chores may ultimately undermine the surplus leisure time they permit. By instigating a sense of impatience, these technologies may prevent people from savoring the enjoyable moments life offers serendipitously,” doctoral student Julian House and professors Sanford E. DeVoe and Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto wrote in the study.
The research, published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found people exposed to fast-food symbols were less likely to find pleasure in beautiful pictures and music. The research also found those living in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor pleasurable experiences.