A Formula for Happiness? Research suggests the Goldilocks Rule might apply.

A Formula for Happiness? Research suggests the Goldilocks Rule might apply.

via Psychology Today by Judy Ho

People more than ever are juggling a myriad of responsibilities in multiple spheres of life. Between career aspirations, household and parenting duties, romantic relationship attainments and time for yourself, it is no wonder that burnout and declining physical and mental health are at an all-time high. Add the stress of the extended pandemic, the loss of control, and grief over “the old way of life,” and you’ve got a recipe for lower life satisfaction and lower perceived happiness.

If you notice that you’ve been having more frustrated days than usual, and that you’ve felt less hopeful than you did in the past, you’re not alone. Many people are reporting these concerns but at a loss on how to make things better. How can we start to feel happier and more satisfied with life again? 

An interesting study was conducted and published in the Social Science Research network which looked at the relationship between free time and life satisfaction. A survey of 35, 375 Americans showed that there is a Goldilocks Rule at play when it comes to free time. For employed individuals, 2 1/2 hours of free time was associated with the highest ratings in life satisfaction. For unemployed people, the optimal free time clocked in at around 4 1/2 hours. Given that an average person’s waking hours is somewhere between 15-18 hours per day, this shows that too much free time might actually be a detriment to our experience of positive emotions and lead to a decline in mental wellness.

So, free time has a U shaped curve. Too little or too much, and you stop reaping the benefits. And the good news is, for people who say “I’m too busy to have free time to do the things I want,” 2 1/2 hours is perfectly doable if you are intentional about it. You can chop up the 2 1/2 hours by breaking it into smaller segments throughout the day. And you can help maximize the benefits of this free time by tapping into flow whenever you can during these moments.

Flow, first identified by psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is one of life’s most enjoyable states of being. Have you ever been completely immersed in a task, enjoyed what you were doing so much and forgot about time? That’s an example of Flow! People sometimes call it being in the zone, where you mind is effortlessly mindful without having to try. There is a sense of focus, inner clarity, inner peace, timelessness, and extreme positive feelings. That’s what we can recreate for ourselves every day!

Check out this Flow Model. Csikszentmihalyi tells us that to find flow, we have to get to that optimal challenge-skill balance. When we find something challenge and we believe our skillset would help meet that challenge, we’re in FLOW!

Here are the takeaways…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

#happiness #happy #psychology #positivepsychology #flow