Monday, October 09, 2006

Deadlines, manic behaviour and happiness

Much as I rant about the idiosyncratic "conference as primary publication venue" nature of computer science, there's no denying the pleasures of working down to the wire to meet a deadline. The adrenaline rush, the highs (and the post-deadline lows), and the feeling that my mind is working at 200 mph... aaah. It's like a drug habit I can't shake (which is why, inspite of vowing after each deadline never to do it again, I ... do it again. Classic addict behaviour).

It turns out that all I'm really doing is maximizing happiness. Who'da thunk it ?
When people are made to think quickly, they report feeling happier as a result. They also say they are more energetic, more creative, more powerful, and more self-assured. In short, they reported a whole set of experiences associated with being "manic."
And if your paper, written with the sweat of your fevered brow, fueled by zillions of cups of coffee, delivered by divine inspiration from the Book to your mind, gets rejected ? Just think quickly:
...the effect of thought speed was just as powerful as the effect of the content of the thoughts. In other words, the speed of people's cognitive processing was just as important as what they processed in determining their mood. Even thinking sad thoughts at a fast pace made people relatively happy.

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