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.
READ MORE: Materialism is Bad for Marriage
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.
COLUMN: Curb Your Impulse Buys
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!
COLUMN: The Truth About Money & Happiness