New research suggests the way we view our “free time” may impact how happy we are.
Canadian researchers discovered people who put a price on their time are more likely to feel impatient when they’re not using it to earn money. Moreover, this perception appears to hurt individuals’ ability to derive happiness during leisure activities.
“Treating time as money can actually undermine your well-being,” said Sanford DeVoe, Ph.D., lead author of the study. DeVoe and Ph.D. student Julian House based their conclusions on three experiments.
In each, a sub-group of participants was prepared, through survey questions, to think about their time in terms of money.
In turn, the time-is-money orientation influenced the way in which the group responded to relaxation opportunities. Specifically, this group showed greater impatience and lower satisfaction during leisure activities introduced during the experiments.
However, those put into the sub-group reported more enjoyment and less impatience when they were paid during one of those activities, which was listening to music.
The experiments’ results demonstrate that thinking about time in terms of money “changes the way you actually experience time,” said DeVoe. “Two people may experience the same thing, over the same amount of time, yet react to it very differently.”
Researchers believe the findings are important given societal pressures toward productivity and reimbursement. Devoe believes the growth over the last several decades in jobs paid by the hour has detrimentally influenced the ability to relax.
It’s important for people to be “mindful” of the impact this can have on their leisure enjoyment, he said, and allow themselves “to really smell the roses.”