When you’re riding in a car down most interstates, looking out the window, it’s not hard to miss the surplus of fast food signs and billboards. But seeing these images might make it harder for you to slow down and savor good moments.

As reported by PsyPost, researchers from the University of Toronto used McDonald’s symbols to test whether our increasingly speed-focused culture is affecting our ability to experience everyday pleasure.

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They conducted three experiments, which show how fast food can inhibit the ability to savor. Their research, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found:

  1. People living in neighborhoods with more fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor good experiences.

  2. Exposure to fast food images made it harder to enjoy images of natural beauty.

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  3. Exposure to fast food images made it harder to appreciate beautiful music due to greater impatience.

Of course, as the researchers warn, their study has limitations and “happiness does not solely depend on savoring.” Still, it’s useful to consider how symbols of time efficiency impact our happiness.

As doctoral student Julian House and his colleagues concluded, “Given the prevalence of fast-food symbols in our everyday environment, it is critical to better understand their influence.

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We already reported on a study, which showed how people who eat fast food commercial baked goods regularly are more likely to develop depression. You may also wish to read about how fast food has changed our country. But ultimately remember this: slow down, make your own happy meals with whole foods and try to be mindful and enjoy the little moments that can have such a big impact on our everyday lives.

 Image Source: Dave Robinson / Flickr