Seeing Cute Animals Makes You Productive, Happy

Many of us aren’t feeling productive. Whether or not our states are official “open” on paper, most Americans are still working from home, out of work or being forced to stay away from people for health reasons. It leaves us feeling listless and disconnected, which makes getting tasks done harder.

Does it really matter that you have dishes in the sink as long as you still have clean ones in the cupboard? Does showering matter if you won’t see anyone? Is exercise important when we aren’t out and about? The answer is, yes, a nice home and a healthy body can bring great comfort, and doing these things consistently helps you in the long run. A clean environment and sticking to your health routines help you stay healthy.

But, how do you find the motivation to get your tasks done when you are feeling listless? The answer might be more fun than you think: look at cute pictures of animals. A 2012 study showed participants pictures of cute baby animals, grown-up animals and photographs of just dull things. They were asked to do tasks before and after viewing the photos. The people who looked at animals all did better than those who looked at the neutral images. The people who looked at the baby animals performed significantly better, with far more focus and accuracy than the people who looked at adults. The researchers concluded that the cute pictures’ impact was significant enough to boost performance in tasks like driving and doing work.

In 2017, Univ. of Victoria neuroscientist Olav Krigolson looked into what happens to your brain when you see something cute and unexpected. He found that our brains perceived the experience as a reward, releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine. He explained, “Staring at cute things activates the amygdala and other emotional areas of the brain, which ramps up other cognitive systems.”

That is supported by a study in 2011. It found that workers who took a break to browse the web were far more refreshed and productive than people who took breaks to make personal calls, read their email or send texts. It could be that “surprise” factor that boosts it. We all know a phone call with a loved one feels good. But, when you Google “cute kitten” you get happiness-inducing content that’s new and exciting. If you aren’t a cat person, type in “puppy,” “baby wild animals,” “baby farm animals”: whatever you like! It doesn’t matter the species, the baby is always cutest.

Additionally, a study showed three groups of people either an angry person’s Twitter feed, funny posts from Twitter or pictures of cute dogs. Then they asked people to rate several emotions they were feeling. The people who looked at the angry posts — regardless of whether they agreed with the angry person — had a decreased sense of well-being: they were less calm, grateful and happy. The people who read the jokes saw an increase in their well-being. But, the people who looked at dogs were left with the highest levels of well=being.

We want everyone to feel better and be more productive during this difficult time. So, when you’re done exploring our site, go look up “sleeping ducklings.” You’ll find yourself feeling energized and happy.
May 15, 2020
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