How Much Spare Time do Happy People Need?

Exploring the relationship between spare time and wellbeing.



(Jacob Lund /

Do you feel like you are constantly rushing from one task to the next? Are you constantly busy and never seem to have a moment to rest and enjoy yourself? Well, it turns out there might be a magic number when it comes to the amount of free time you need to be happy

The science of happiness and free time
According to Psychology Today, the ideal amount of free time a person needs per day to be happy is about two hours. They say that people who have around two hours of free time per day are happier and more satisfied with their lives compared to those that have less free time. Interestingly enough, according to the  American Psychological Association, too much free time can be detrimental. Adults that have more than five hours of free time per day are not as happy or fulfilled either. So, between two to five hours seems to be the magic number indeed.

But what counts as free time?
Everyone’s definition of “free time” might be different, and what makes one person happy might not work for someone else. It is with considering how much time you devote to activities that truly make you happy and that you enjoy, versus how much time you're spending on tasks that feel obligatory or stressful. 

CNBC reports that free time is important, but how you spend it is important too. Time spent on activities that are not required by daily life, such as hobbies, socializing and relaxing are not only important but necessary for a person. In fact, a study published by Psychosom Medicine found that spending time doing leisure activities promotes a person’s psychological and physical health and wellbeing. 

Finding free time
If you feel like you just don't have enough time in the day for an extra two hours of “free time”, there are a few things you can do. Mind Tools recommends waking up earlier and reexamining your schedule. Perhaps by shifting a few things you can find some extra time. Other things you can think about doing are cutting back on some responsibilities, whether at home or at work. Perhaps there is something you can outsource or get help with?

You can also choose to reframe and change your perspective about tasks that you are already undertaking. Making dinner? Maybe buy a new cooking tool that will bring you joy and can help you enjoy the dinner making experience. Driving to work? Turn up the music and sing along, if that's something you like doing. 

Ultimately, the amount of free time you need to be happy will depend on our own personal preferences and circumstances. According to Inc, it's all about mindset. By being mindful of how you are spending your time and prioritizing activities that truly make you happy, you can create a life that feels more fulfilling and enjoyable. 

Creating Your Ultimate Recipe for Happiness
5 Happiness Secrets From Around the World
5 Reasons Why Simple Living Can Lead to Happiness