I read in Stephan Klein's The Science of Happiness that in general, people are actually happier at work than they are at home. If I remember correctly, a study was done where participants wore a device that would beep each hour, at which point they would input a number to indicate how happy they were. In this way, their happiness levels could be tracked as they moved through their daily routines. As participants left work at the end of the day, you would expect a spike in happiness, but actually the opposite occurred. It turns out, we are much happier when we are busy and our minds are engaged in our work than we are when we are at home slouching in front of the TV. (Klein also noted that the two activities that are nearly guaranteed to induce some amount of happiness are physical exercise and sex. So if you are having a bad day, those are sure bets to improve it!)
This Saturday, I spent the whole day working hard to get things done around the house so I could take Sunday and just relax. I did the laundry (it had been a few weeks and the pile was beginning to show signs of sentience), washed dishes, vacuumed, paid the bills, caught up with a friend at coffee, updated my blog, and went for a walk. Then, on Sunday, I had nothing left to do really, so I just sat around and watched movies. Which day was the better day? Saturday, of course. We have this tendency to think that if we could just sit down and relax for a few hours we would be happier, but in fact, being busy and active seems to be the better solution. So here's my question: How does this information apply to the oft-expressed complaints of busy soccer moms and over-scheduled kids? How does it apply to work-aholics? How does it apply to you?