Carpe diem? Caveat emptor.

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Live for the moment, or save for the future? According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, party while you still can: you'll be glad you did. Ran Kivetz, a professor of business at Columbia U, conducted a series of interviews to gain insight into a condition he calls "hyperopia," or excessive farsightedness.

One set of interviews asked people about a time in the previous week when they chose between work and pleasure, and had them rank how they now felt about that decision. Another asked people the same question, but in reference to an event five years in the past. The results were polarizing: most of those who had forgone pleasure and worked hard a week prior were glad they did, but wished they had chosen to party five years prior. "In the long run," Kivetz says, "we inevitably regret being virtuous and wish we'd been bigger hedonists."

Of course, one thing the study doesn't take into account is how work performed in the past effects current happiness. Sure, it's easy for dad to say now that he wished he'd gone to Woodstock instead of studying for the bar exam -- but then again, the Jag in the driveway might not be there if he hadn't.

January 2, 2007 - 8:25am
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