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Is More Always Better?

A new research study on free time

Does having more free time make a person happier? How about possessing more material goods? At first glance, it may seem as though having less free time or material goods would cause one to be less happy, and conversely, having more free time or material goods would cause one to be happier. However, according to a study by Chris Manolis of Xavier University and James Roberts of Baylor University, this is not always true. In fact, having too much free time or too many material goods can be just as bad as having too little.

In the study, the data was obtained from measuring how much free time 1,329 adolescents in the mid-western United States had, and how much importance they placed on materialistic values. The adolescents were also asked to rate their perceived well-being, or happiness, levels. The results were fairly concordant, showing that those who practice compulsive buying and who put a great importance on material goods had a lower happiness level. Possessing more things does not make one happier! Time affluence, or the amount of free time each subject had, influenced happiness levels as well. The study showed that someone who is a compulsive buyer but who doesn't have too little or too much free time will be happier than someone who does have to little or too much free time.

In our society, an abundance of free time is seen as supremely important and good, while a lack of free time is always perceived as negative. However, the data would suggest that this is not necessarily correct. When linked to materialistic values, time plays a crucial role regarding whether or not we feel satisfied. Time and activity level can have differing effects on people, or at least teenagers. If people are busy with the right amount of activities, they may think less about the latest gadgets or goods that they would have otherwise dwelled upon if they had an overwhelming abundance of free time, and thus feel happier.

Overall, it seems as though living with a balanced amount of free time promotes well-being and affects our materialistic views and values. By having just enough free time, not too much and not too little, chances are that we won't practice compulsive buying, feeling unsatisfied and thus unhappy. According to the study, adolescent happiness is linked directly to these factors, and happiness levels can be affected by simply balancing the amount of free time we possess.

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