Think Fast…And Be Happy?

Bummed out? Quick—name the capitol of Idaho! First president of the United States! Fiftieth state! Now read the rest of this article really fast!

Why am I haranguing you with these absurd exercises, you might ask? Well, a new study coauthored by scientists from Harvard and Princeton suggests that speeding up cognitive processes can help induce a more positive state of mind.

Participants in the study were asked to read a bunch of statements at a fast pace and complete a questionnaire about how they felt afterward. Some of the statements were happy, like, "Wow, I feel great!" and some were sad, like, "I want to go to sleep and never wake up." But no matter what they were asked to read, the participants reported feeling happier, more energetic, more creative and more powerful after reading quickly.

This thinking-fast-makes-you-happy hypothesis could not only be useful in treating depression, as the Harvard and Princeton guys opine, but may also help to explain the success of many a coke-addled comedian.

So…neat! I feel happier when I think really fast, too. Which is probably why, like most New Yorkers, I spend all my time racing around, doing 15 things at once, never pausing long enough to think of anything of real import—those things could make me sad. —Megan Miller