Friends Or Faimily: Who Makes Us Happier? Researchers Explain The Difference

A study has found that people are happier when they are with their friends instead of their families. 

It is a common misconception that people are happiest when they are with their families. Research conducted by Nathan Hudson of Southern Methodist University and his colleagues has found that people’s wellbeing is higher around friends than family. In the study, over 400 participants were asked to remember the times they have spent with friends and family and to then rate how their experiences made them feel. The participants were asked to rate happiness, satisfaction, and a sense of meaning from 0 (almost never) to 6 (almost always). Using this information, researchers were able to find the level of happiness they felt around friends and family.

It was found that being in the company of romantic partners predicted the least amount of happiness.

The results of the research showed that people were happiest when hanging out with their friends. Surprisingly, it was also found that being around romantic partners predicted the lowest levels of happiness. The most important thing to note is that Hudson believes it is less about who the person is around and more about the activity they engage in when they are with them. Put differently, hanging out with friends means partying, socializing, having fun, and engaging in pleasant activities. On the other hand, being around your family means doing unpleasant but necessary things, such as chores.

Hudson spoke about the study’s findings as he said:

Our study suggests that this doesn’t have to do with the fundamental nature of kith versus kin relationships. When we statistically controlled for activities, the ‘mere presence’ of children, romantic partners, and friends predicted similar levels of happiness. Thus, this paper provides an optimistic view of family and suggests that people genuinely enjoy their romantic partners and children.

This study carries an important lesson.

As people reported feeling similar levels of wellbeing around friends and family once the activity was removed, it is evident that what we do matters more than who we do it with. Speaking about this, Hudson explained that “It’s important to create opportunities for positive experiences with romantic partners and children — and to really mentally savor those positive times. In contrast, family relationships that involve nothing but chores, housework, and childcare likely won’t predict a lot of happiness.”

In other words, it is vital that we pay attention to what we do when we are around the people who mean most to us. Make time to engage in pleasant activities with those you love most.

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