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How Much Leisure Time Do the Happiest People Have?

How Much Leisure Time Do the Happiest People Have?Oscar Wong / Moment / Getty Images

For many people, success means making lots of money. For others, quality of life comes first. Some people like to keep busy while others wish they worked less. Everyone is obviously different but is there a right formula to determine how much free time is just enough?

A research paper released late last year investigated this trade-off, and concluded that running faster on the hamster wheel, didn't make people happier.

Cassie Mogilner Holmes, a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, and a team of collaborators studied 35,000 Americans and analyzed how they use their time and view their lives. After crunching the numbers, they noticed a pattern.

The results show that those with roughly two and a half hours of free time a day were the happiest, but having too much free time made people less happy since it makes them feel like they are not being productive and doing something meaningful.

It sounds hard to believe, especially since Americans work more than people in other rich countries, and they also work longer into older age. Time is after all, the ultimate scarce resource and so you would think, the average American would want more spare time to relax— but according to research, this isn’t the case.   

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