How Happy People Feel About Their Time

Who among us are the most happy? Newly published research suggests it is those fortunate folks who have little or no excess time, and yet seldom feel rushed, writes Tom Jacob on the website Pacific Standard:

“This busy but blissful group comprises 8 to 12 percent of Americans, making it ‘a small and unusual minority within the general population,’ writes University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson.

According to his analysis, the happiness level of this group is 12 to 25 percent higher than that of those of most Americans. What’s more, while the general population’s happiness level is going down, theirs is increasing: 53 percent of people in this group called themselves ‘very happy’ in a 2009 survey, compared to 48 percent in surveys from 1976 and 1982.” (Read more here.)

What’s this about? I’d wager it’s related to another research finding: that people who are in control of their time are happier. If you control your time—that is, if you have a job or a lifestyle that allows you to choose what you do, when you do it—then you could arrange things so that you’re just busy enough (instead of harried or bored).

Are you one of these lucky people?

4 Responses to “How Happy People Feel About Their Time”

  1. Barry Kort says:

    This sounds like it corresponds to Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s concept of the emotional state he calls “Flow.”

  2. Having control of one’s life–the constant struggle.

  3. Ian Leslie says:

    In my experience, having control of one’s time is just as likely to create unhappiness as happiness. It forces you to answer the hardest of existential questions – what should I do with my life? – every day. That’s hard work! And I for one only wish it were as easy as you suggest to arrange an optimum level of busy-ness…

Leave a Reply

Sign up for The Brilliant Report, a monthly newsletter full of the latest findings on how to learn smarter:

Close