Finding joy in our lives can be difficult for many of us. Life consists of many made-up moments. Some moments are so unique that one can hardly believe they are happening, while others can make us wonder, “why am I here?” As the years go by and we gain insight and wisdom, we understand that every day is not remarkable. Embrace that knowledge but know that there are things that we can do to improve the joy we experience.

Of course, big things like where we live, who we spend our time with, and what we do for a living significantly contribute to our joy. But we may not always be able to control those things. We can manage more minor things and everyday choices to improve our lives. Research suggests that hobbies can alleviate stress, boost resilience, enhance creativity, and even help us perform better at work. Studies also show that the specific hobbies you choose matter. Social hobbies, for instance, have been shown to make people significantly happier than solo ones. An article from former Google data scientist and author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explains research regarding how leisure activity plays a role in our mood. 

Out of 27 possible leisure activities listed by the researchers, “texting, email, and social media” came last in terms of happiness. Just slightly above it was browsing the internet. The only activities people liked less than being online were commuting, being sick in bed, and dealing with admin or finances. Isn’t that wild? Just think about how much time we spend doing those things.

What were the activities that brought the most happiness? It will be no shock to know that sex topped the list of most joyful activities. Attending performances, exercise, sports, gardening, performing music, hanging out with friends, and being out in nature were next on the list.

How much of your free time do you spend doing things that bring you joy? Do you know what brings you joy? Today is the day that you find out and make some changes.

Changing our career paths is difficult. Changing our partner is difficult. But changing what we do in our free time is easy peasy! It is not a fix-all, but the researchers suggest that changing what you do during your free time may bring you more in-the-moment happiness while you figure out the rest of it.

Dr. Kimberly VanBuren

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