Posted on Sep 18, 2023, 2 p.m.
People are so busy these days with work that they leave little to no time for fun and enjoyment. It may be time to rethink how time is spent for those extra dedicated to work as recent research across three countries published in the Journal of Personality has found that prioritizing career goals at the expense of fun and freedom does not make your life better.
Researchers from the University of Essex and colleagues at the University of Bath explored how various values impact our happiness. The study revealed that those who prioritized work achievements over personal enjoyment were less happy on the following day. Alternatively, those who aimed for more freedom experienced a 13% increase in their well-being, recording better sleep quality and feelings of life satisfaction. To add to this, those who tried to relax and follow their hobbies (fun) recorded an average well-being boost of 8% and a 10% decrease in stress and anxiety levels.
“We all know the old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ and this study shows it might actually be true. There is no benefit to well-being in prioritising achievement over fun and autonomy,” said Dr. Paul Hanel, Ph.D. at the University of Essex Department of Psychology. “This research shows that there are real benefits to having a balanced life and taking time to focus on enjoying ourselves and following individual goals. Ironically by doing this, people could in fact be more successful as they will be more relaxed, happier, and satisfied.”
This study examined more than 180 people from three countries, India, Turkey, and the UK who recorded how following different values affected them for nine days. Analysis revealed that all nationalities reported the same result with the following of hedonism and self-direction values leading to increased happiness, while conformity and achievement values had no impact on happiness whatsoever. The researchers noted that achievement might impact happiness when linked to job satisfaction or the number of days worked.
“This multination project was an exciting foray into questions about how values affect well-being in day-to-day life. People often spend most of their days working hard for their daily income, studies, and careers,” said Professor Greg Maio, BSc, MSc, PhD, and head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. “Against this backdrop, where achievement-oriented values have ring-fenced a great portion of our time, we found that it helps to value freedom and other values just enough to bring in balance and recovery. In the future, it will be interesting to consider how this pattern interacts with relevant traits, such as conscientiousness, and situational contexts, such as type of employment.”
Dr. Hanel added: “Our research further shows that it might be more important to focus on increasing happiness rather than reducing anxiety and stress, which is of course also important, just not as much.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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