New research highlights the links between busy lives and bliss. Turns out that the happiest people in the country are more likely to report themselves both as less rushed and with no excess time. John P. Robinson, the Professor of Sociology and Director of the Americans’ Use of Time Project as well as Director of the the Internet Scholars Program. Robinson is primarily interested in the study of time and is co-author of several books dealing with the use of time and the quality of life, including Time for Life (with G. Godbey, Penn State Press, 1999), The Rhythm of Everyday Life: How Soviet and American Citizens Use Time (Westview, 1988) and How Americans Use Time (Praeger, 1977).
“If someone were to ask you how happy you are, how would you respond?
University of Maryland sociologist John Robinson has been studying how people answer that question for nearly 40 years, and he’s been looking at that happiness question as it relates to two other questions, both about how people view their time.
The first: ‘Would you say that you always feel rushed, only sometimes feel rushed or almost never feel rushed?’
And the second: ‘How often do you have time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with: most of the time, some of the time, none of the time?’
Putting the happiness question aside for just a second, it’s interesting to note that according to Robinson’s analysis, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as “always feeling rushed” actually went down between 2004 and 2010.
‘That was really a surprise to me,’ he says. ‘Particularly with all this new technology that we have, which is very time-demanding. I know I have a hard time dealing with it; it raises my blood pressure!’
Something else that surprised Robinson is what happens when you bring the happiness question in. According to his research, the people who report being the happiest, about 8 to 12 percent of Americans, “say they almost never feel rushed, and they do not have time on their hands they don’t know what to do with,” explains Robinson.
Extra time = less happiness
Robinson isn’t the only happiness researcher intrigued by this finding. Erik Angner, who teaches philosophy, economics and public policy at George Mason University, says he was surprised to find that people who had a lot of excess time on their hands reported being less happy.
“I would have thought that the relationship would go (go to American University Radio to read and hear more…)
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