The Science of Well-Being

Prioritizing Time to Improve Happiness

Prioritizing Time to Improve Happiness

We are continuing on with the same theme as the last few posts; what are concrete ways to improve our happiness. And prioritizing time over money to improve happiness is another strategy.


Affluence is an abundant flow or supply. For example, many people have an affluence of toilet paper right now.

Most people think of monetary affluence. Someone who is very rich and is standing in a pile of money. But there is a second kind of affluence. One that is usually at odds with monetary affluence. That is time affluence.

Time Affluence

Imagine having all of the time to do the things you need and want to do. Never being pressed for time. To do this we need to invest more in time than in monetary items.

How do we invest in time affluence?

Instinctively, humans do not have a sense to do this. But investing in time affluence can make us happier than we think.

We are usually chasing money or chasing time. You might meet someone who values her time more than money. She is willing to sacrifice money to have more free time. She opts to work less hours and in return has more time but less money.

Then you meet someone who is the exact opposite. She values her money more than her time. She is willing to sacrifice time to have more money. And she opts to work more hours and in return make more money.

How happy are these two people? Research has looked at this. And yes people that are happier on average are the ones that prioritize time over money.

This study in 2016 found that more people value money, 69%, than time, 31%. But those who value time are happier, 4.89/5 on a scale of 1 to 5. So we think we value money more than time.


Those lesser few who do value time over money are happier.

Guess what?

Even just thinking about time can make you happier. Just like we have previously discussed, thinking about kindness, gratitude, re-experiencing your memories, are all ways that simply thinking can boost your happiness.

How to work on prioritizing time to improve happiness

Research has found that we need to consciously choose to do so. Be aware of your actions and choose to invest more in time affluence. Realize that what you want to be doing with your time is not doing all the stuff you need to do to earn money.

Don’t just say to yourself that you will start investing in time after you do x,y, and z. Open yourself up to be free to do lots of things. Limiting the time you spend worrying about money, grades, accolades, finding the perfect partner, etc, allows you have more free time! Turn that worry time into free time and you will naturally fill it with good things, like social connections.

Two things I have learned in quarantine

#1: I do value time so much more than money. But I get caught up in the money aspect because of my student loans. I fall into that category of if I could just do x,y, and z, then I could invest more into time affluence. For me, that x,y, and z are my private, federal, and parent plus student loans. I spend so much time worrying and thinking about them. Which cascades into other worries and fears.

During quarantine and redoing my budget, I realized I could afford to work part time or make half of my salary if I did not have my student loan payments each month.

So step 1, realize I have a plan to pay off the loans and realize I just can’t pay them off all at once right now, but with the plan I have, they will be one day.

Step 2, continuing praying each day that they will miraciously go away. But quit complaining every few horus, every freaking day!

#2: The second thing I learned during quarantine, Jose hates cleaning. Well, actually, I already knew that. I was just surprised that when I asked him what he hates doing the most that he answered that question so quickly and affirmatively.

I don’t mind cleaning, but I would like to have back, the time it takes to clean. So I suggested we look into house cleaners when this is all done. I was willing to spend some money in order to have a few hours back each month. But he is not on board with that. I could not even talk him into letting me do all the cleaning and his pay back would be buying me coffee each time I clean.

So we have some work to do with him. Maybe he will read this post and have a change of heart 🙂

What category do you fall into? What can you do to invest more in time?

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