There you are in your cubicle, daydreaming about blowing off that status meeting and shoe-shopping next door instead.Well this just in: Don’t do it! Really! It’s a bad idea!Why? Because materialism and feeling time-crunched are a recipe for the blues. Research from Xavier and Baylor University shows that an unbalanced amount of free time—whether too much or too little—leads to unhappiness in our consumer society.

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The study surveyed 1,329 teens from a large public high school in the Midwest and measured three things: how much free time each student had, how materialistic or purchase-compulsive they were, and how generally happy they were. The findings: Materialism and time pressure (two things we already know lead to unhappiness individually) showed even higher levels of unhappiness when experience together.

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Seems simple enough, but as always, the details get interesting. Yes, materialism is bad news all around, but the study also shows that if you balance it with just-enough free time, your happiness doesn’t suffer as much. (Hear that, “Real Housewives”? You need to balance your pool-lounging with those frenetic brunches and birthday parties!) As always, moderation wins the race.

In today’s rough-and-tumble economy, this news truly is comforting on a basic level, too. As Professor Chris Manolis, one of the lead researchers, put it: “This work further illustrates the ill effects of ‘chasing the almighty dollar,’ or getting caught-up in acquiring material goods or objects.”So true—when times are tough, at least you know that shiny Rolex wouldn’t improve your life-satisfaction much anyway. Cheers to that!

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