A recent study found that even though we may have more money and our income levels are higher, the unintended
consequence for this success is an unhealthy decrease in our free time. And that’s bad for happiness.
The study found that when you are constantly pressed for time, the negative stress can increase anxiety and lead to unhealthy habits in eating, sleeping and exercising. But, if you take your earnings and trade them for time, such as paying someone to mow the lawn or clean your house, you can free up time to spend with the people you enjoy doing activities that bring you pleasure.
Scarcity of Time
“We spend our time in ways that don’t pay out in terms of our overall well-being,” says sociologist Christine Carter,
Ph.D. “Neurologically, the busier that we feel and the more overwhelmed that we feel, the worse we are at managing
our time, planning out how we’ll spend our time and perceiving time.”
She says that any time we feel like we don’t have enough of something, it creates a “scarcity mindset” in our brain
that triggers our fight-or-flight response. “It worsens our relationship with time and productivity.”
According to the study, if we spend money on timesaving activities instead of material goods, we may feel more relief at the end of the day and have a more positive mindset. But, if we overdo it, we can stoke feelings of having less control over our lives or we can fill that time with more of what got us in trouble in the first place, such as checking email, scrolling through our phones or just doing more work.
“A lot of the things that we pay people to do for us take away our unspoken mind-wandering time. That’s when a
lot of thought happens in the brain,” says Carter. She adds that trading money for time is good if we use our free time the right way, like spending it to find fulfillment and connect with people we are close to, which is essential for our well-being.
She says if we don’t use our extra time to let the mind wander, the brain will find inopportune times to daydream
anyway and interrupt your creativity and productivity.