A study by Stanford psychologist James Gross finds that people tend to engage in unpleasant but necessary activities, such a doing taxes, paying bills, or cleaning the house, when they are in a good mood. On the other hand, people who are in a bad mood are more likely to do something fun to feel better.
While this is not necessarily a surprise, the theory behind this behavior is pretty cool. Gross describes this dynamic as “hedonic flexibility,” which means that people instinctively use their good mood as a resource, channeling it to work on challenging things. This means we are delaying short-term gratification for long-term benefits.
For their study, Gross and his fellow researchers randomly surveyed the activities and moods of more than 60,000 people over an average of 27 days… The study showed that “hedonic flexibility” was consistently practiced in a range of daily choices made by respondents, such as when an upbeat mood helps one endure a long line at, say, the post office or grocery.