Do your mood swings decide your level of indulgence in lifestyle activities? Does depression drive you towards junk food-binging, needless hours spent on shopping sprees or does extreme happiness make you lose control? A recent report has been published that recommends simple techniques to help such mood-induced, over-indulgent individuals from sacrificing long-term gains for short-time pleasures.
"The recipe is simple. If you are feeling happy, focus on reasons why those feelings will last, and if you are feeling unhappy, focus on reasons why those feelings will pass," write Aparna A. Labroo of the University of Chicago and Anirban Mukhopadhyay of the University of Michigan, the authors of the report published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
According to the report, indulgence is often a result of people trying to improve their mood.
Its authors say that people tend to indulge themselves when they believe their happy feelings might pass unless they do something to prolong the good feeling.
Others feel miserable and believe they'll be stuck with the blues unless they do something to improve their mood, they add.
"People strategically manage their actions both to accomplish their long-term interests and to attain immediate pleasures. If they believe they need to take action to regulate their feelings in the here and now, they tend to indulge in immediate pleasures. In contrast, if they believe such actions are not required, they act in their long-term interests," write the authors.
During an experiment, the participants, who were dieters, were presented with line drawings of either smiley or frowny faces.
"The results revealed that simply associating a smiley with less transience (coloring with a superfine micro tip, which takes a long time to color, rather than a sharpie, which colors the face in a few short strokes) resulted in people becoming more likely to act their long-term interests and choose an apple as a snack rather than a chocolate," write the authors.
Next time your misery makes you reach for the hot fudge, recommend the researchers, take a moment to think about how the feelings will pass.
"Simply thinking life is not so bad might actually help you make your life a little better by helping you make a healthy food choice," the researchers conclude.