How Much Free Time Do You Need to Be Happy?

How Much Free Time Do You Need to Be Happy?

As the saying goes, “too much of a good thing isn’t good any more”.

This is very true when it comes to many of the components of health and wellbeing and happiness.

Exercise is obviously great; over-exercising and not resting enough can be problematic.

Sleep is very important; over-sleeping might not be as beneficial.

And having free time to do as you please, can definitely enhance happiness but … how much is enough?

Read on to learn more about the “ideal” amount of free time you need to be happy …

via Psychology Today by Max Alberhasky


  • Researchers examined the relationship between free time and happiness.
  • Having between two and five hours per day of free time maximizes happiness.
  • How people spend their free time matters.

Imagine that you have woken up on the first day of a much-anticipated vacation. You enjoy a leisurely breakfast, take a stroll on the beach, and read the morning paper as you sip on coffee. Things are off to a great start, and you are feeling happy and relaxed—just like you predicted when booking the trip. By the time the late afternoon rolls around, you may start to feel downright bored!

If you have ever felt like this, you’re not alone. It turns out that having unlimited free time is not always as incredible as we expected. For instance, retirees fantasize about how happy they will be once they leave their job behind in exchange for unlimited cocktails and novels on the beach.

Yet, the reality is that many who retire enjoy leisure at first but, only weeks later, realize they actually miss that job they left behind, which provided a sense of productivity, purpose, and meaning to their life. Full day after day of leisure can get old quickly. On the other hand, being busy with work and other productive obligations from sunrise to sunset can’t be good for our happiness either because of the stress.

The tension between being too productive and too bored raises the question: What is the optimal amount of free time for our happiness?

Researchers sought to answer this question by surveying tens of thousands of participants, collecting data on how they spent their time and how happy they were (Sharif, Mogilner & Hershfield 2021). The results from their study revealed three key takeaways:

1. Having less than two hours of free time per day causes too much stress to be happy.

After looking at the data, the research team found that having less than two hours per day of free time was not enough to be happy. Participants with under two hours of discretionary time per day reported increased stress, meaning that they were simply too busy with work, errands, child care, or other matters to maximize their happiness.

The fact that being too busy undercuts happiness is obvious, which might lead to the conclusion that more free time is simply better. However, that’s not what the research team found…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE