Enjoy the Simple Things

Published on October 21, 2016

Bauer Professor Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan Links Simple Pleasures to Goal Pursuit In Co-Authored Journal of the Association for Consumer Research Study

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Experiencing simple pleasures in daily life can keep us on track to achieve personal and professional goals and help to offset small annoyances, according to a new study co-authored by Bauer College Professor Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan.

C. T. Bauer College of Business Professor and Doctoral Programs Director Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan talks about achieving goals through experiencing simple pleasures in recent study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

C. T. Bauer College of Business Professor and Doctoral Programs Director Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan talks about achieving goals through experiencing simple pleasures in recent study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Patrick-Ralhan, also director for Bauer Doctoral Programs, worked with University of Melbourne Professor Nicole Mead, Erasmus University Ph.D. student Manissa Gunadi and University of Cologne Professor Wilhelm Hofmann to analyze how daily experiences influence goal pursuit.

“Everyone has goals that they want to pursue,” Patrick-Ralhan said. “It is quite clear that some days people engage in activities that help further their goals, but on other days, they fritter the day away on meaningless, trivial and non-goal directed activities. Goal pursuit is important to live a productive, meaningful, fulfilled and purposeful life.”

Their study, published in the October issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, tracked minor annoyances and simple pleasures of university students and staff over a six-day period.

“On days when participants experienced a high amount of small annoyances, simple pleasures buffered the impact of the small annoyances, to facilitate overall goal progress during that day,” Patrick-Ralhan said. “However, when people reported low levels of simple pleasures, it appeared that small annoyances hampered overall goal progress.”

She added: “When we are having a bad day, our instinct is to clamber under the sheets and hope the day will end. Our current research suggests otherwise — consumers should try and seek out and experience the simple pleasures available in daily life. For some it might be a refreshing cup of tea or a beautiful sunset, and for others it could be listening to a favorite song or simply appreciating green lights all the way to work. Regardless of what the simple pleasure is, our research shows that experiencing a simple pleasure can help mitigate the negativity of the bad day and keeps us on track to pursue what is important to us.”

The study has business implications, too, she added. According to Patrick-Ralhan, employers should take note of their employee’s happiness when it comes to achieving corporate success.

“Businesses need successful and happy people. This research presents a simple strategy to help infuse people with joy and happiness that motivates them to pursue their goals, work harder and better,” she said.

By Amanda Sebesta

Posted Under: Faculty and Staff

1 reply to “Enjoy the Simple Things

  1. Grant Ball

    It is good to hear that research has backed up the idea that goal pursuit is improved, when experiencing life’s small everyday pleasures. Unfortunately, I do become concerned about the way that some employers have been employing staff as self-employed on reduced pay, and much poorer conditions of work, while the economy has been performing so badly. Many times these people say that their work is so rushed, the lack of time to cherish simple pleasures, must be a heavy burden for these people. Ultimately, surely their productivity will be reduced by a reduced ability to cherish simple pleasures, resulting in an inability to pursue their business goals?

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