What makes us happiest: work, love or leisure?

Work, family/partnership, and leisure form the most important domains in most peoples’ lives. The present study investigated patterns of fulfilment in these domains among 1,974 German respondents. Eight groups were formed based on the combination of having experienced career progress (yes/no), having a satisfying intimate relationship (yes/no), and perceiving high levels of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1997) during leisure activities (yes/no). Socioeconomic resources (educational attainment and income) as well as psychosocial resources differed between the success patterns, with most resources showing domain-specific positive associations with the criteria of success in life. Individuals with high levels of flow during leisure reported the highest levels of positive affect, whereas success in the field of work and intimate relationship added little. However, lowest levels of depressive symptoms were found in respondents who fulfilled at least two criteria of success. Further longitudinal research is needed for testing causal relationships between change in life success and change in aspects of psychological well-being.

Source: “Patterns of Fulfilment in the Domains of Work, Intimate Relationship, and Leisure” from Applied Research in Quality of Life

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