We may all be chasing the dollar every single day, but, when it comes to happiness, a growing body of research tells us that people who value time over money are happier.
In one study of thousands of Americans, most said money would bring them more joy, yet, researchers found that choosing time over money was associated with greater happiness. In another study of more than 4,500 participants, researchers also found that those who favored time over financial gain also tended to be happier.
Why would having more time bring us more happiness when extra cash can buy us a better car or a dream vacation?
“Having more free time is likely more important for happiness than having more money,” said lead researcher Ashley Whillans in an article on ScienceAlert.com about her work. “Even giving up a few hours of a paycheck to volunteer at a food bank may have more bang for your buck in making you feel happier.”
The results likely won’t ring true for those living in poverty or barely able to make ends meet. But, for the rest of us, there are some important lessons to take away as we seek to keep up with the Joneses—or those Instagram influencers and their plush lifestyles.
Use up all your vacation time
Let’s face it, many of us don’t. According to a 2018 Glassdoor survey, the average American took about half of their eligible vacation time in the past 12 months. And many—66%—say they work when they are off the clock. Workers say worries about getting behind and that nobody else can do the job when they’re gone are the two primary reasons why they forfeit vacation time.
It’s time to do better. Even if you can’t afford a luxury resort vacation in the Bahamas, you still shouldn’t let those extra days go to waste. After all, it’s paid time off—and you’ve earned it. Take the time to be with your friends and family—or, on your own, reading books and watching movies at home for a couple of days.
Sign off from your email
With our smartphones by our side at all times, it’s easier than ever to remain connected to the office, refreshing emails constantly to get the latest updates on an ongoing issue—or the next emergency that flares up. Take a break from it.
Instead of checking that email constantly, set specific times of the day when you’ll take a look, so that your free time after work is time you can spend as you choose.
In an article in Forbes, Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, suggests checking email no more than five times a day. “If you’re answering emails all day long, it will begin to dictate not only your workday but your life,” she said in the story.
Consider your own dreams and desires
It’s easy to get caught up in the quest for a bigger paycheck and forget what truly matters most to you. Maybe it’s more time with your kids or to perfect a hobby or to grow a spectacular flower garden. Whatever it is, if your focus remains exclusively on earning more cash, you won’t have time to tend to the people and activities that matter most in your life.
Find ways to save time
Instead of stressing each night about what’s for dinner, save time by making big batches of food that you can freeze and pull out for those busy weeknight meals. Pull together a meal plan and grocery list once a week, so you only have to go to the store once. Ask your spouse and kids to help you clean up around the house. OrganiseMyHouse.com offers other ways to save time around the house each week.
Take a little me time
Like that vacation, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Splurge on a new bottle of nail polish or some chocolates. Make your own at-home spa treatments. Spending a quiet moment each day or even a few times a week with yourself can help you take stock of what you have and be thankful for it. And that’s the perfect recipe for living a happier life.
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