fast, even “manic” thinking makes us happy, according to emily pronin and daniel wegner of harvard and princeton universities. they conducted a study where they had people read neutral, positive and negative statements at varying speeds.
the researchers found that no matter whether these statements were positive, neutral or negative, after reading at a faster pace – more than twice the normal reading rate – people felt more energetic, happier, more powerful, more grandiose and more creative.
these are usually seen as characteristic of manic thinking, and mania (as, for example, experienced in bipolar experiences). it just goes to show that what we term mental illness is in most cases simply an expression of a tendency that lives in all humans.
it’s interesting to speculate on the implications of this study. i haven’t read the actual journal article (this came to me via medicalnews) that describes this piece of research. another blogger, though, reports that the researchers do ask the obvious question: would fast-paced mental activity be something that can be used to help with depression?
i also wonder whether fast-paced mental activity might have a similar effect on people with depression as exercise (which is something that increases physical speed – e.g. fast heartbeat, higher metabolic rate, etc.)?
another question is whether fast reading is the same as fast thinking. we could also ask whether fast-paced mental activity makes people happier for any length of time. is it one of those things that are fun in the beginning but turn into something unpleasant if it lasts too long? is there a hangover afterwards, as can definitely happen at the end of manic episodes?
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