176 // Key to Happiness, Pt. 1: Free Time

New research indicates that we are terrible at choosing how to spend our free time – but who can really blame us with everything we have to do in our obligated time? Today, James looks at what leisure activities actually make us feel worse, and what we can do to feel good. Spoiler alert: it’s an easy fix.

 

The Key to Happiness

Happiness, both science and experience teach us, is a complicated concept. The good life is made of connection, meaning, beauty, learning, and momentary pleasure. We often have to sacrifice one of these in order to chase another. Typically, the things that give us the most satisfaction in the long run are often pretty miserable day-to-day.

The key to happiness isn’t just getting the big things right. When you wonder how you optimize your happiness, what comes to mind? Maybe questions like: Do I still value and love my spouse? Where should I live? Do I still like my job?

All those questions are big decisions, and getting them right, while difficult, is different from person to person. However, one thing most of us can control is how we spend our free time, if we are fortunate enough to have it. This article states, “A big body of research shows hobbies kill stress, boost resilience, improve creativity, and even help us perform better at work. Studies also show that the specific hobbies you choose matter. Social hobbies, for instance, have been shown to make people significantly happier than solo ones. And a huge amount of data shows that happiness helps you be more successful.”

 

Finding Happiness in Your Free Time

Changing your career is hard; changing your spouse is even harder; changing what you do on a Saturday afternoon is as easy as putting your phone in a different room and stepping outside, putting a record on the record playing, or calling a friend. Of course, this won’t “cure” you – there is no one size fits all when it comes to happiness problems, but knowing what you don’t enjoy in your free time and avoiding that rabbit hole could actually bring you so much more in-the-moment joy. The key to happiness is knowing what would make you happy-right now-and doing it.

Listen to the full episode above to find out what leisure activities are actually keeping you from being happy!

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