Unlike other goals, pursuing happiness rarely leads to attaining happiness (Schooler, Ariely, & Loewenstein, 2003). Instead, seeking happiness more often, ironically, decreases happiness, in turn causing a previous act of seeking happiness to prompt continued behavior devoted toward the same objective (i.e., acts of seeking happiness). How might this happiness-seeking spiral shape one’s experience? We propose that the unique process of pursuing happiness as a goal keeps people engaged in a resource-limited state while seeking happiness. Specifically, because pursuing goals (i.e., happiness) requires an investment of time, and because happiness is a goal that is often never fully realized, the pursuit of happiness should cause people to anticipate needing to dedicate more and more time toward the continued pursuit of happiness and, as a result, to feel as though they have less and less time available to them in the present.
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