People are happier with their FRIENDS than they are with family

People are happier spending time with their friends than with their families because they save fun activities to do with their mates, study finds

  • Study quizzed more than 400 people on fun with friends, kids and their partner  
  • Found people reported more enjoyment with their friends than their family 
  • Experts say this is due to doing more fun activities, such as socialising 
  • Whereas time spent with family includes arduous tasks such as chores  

People are happier when they are with their friends than with their partner or children, a study has found. 

More than 400 volunteers were asked to rank how much they enjoyed a recent moment with their friends and family. 

The questionnaires revealed spending time with romantic partners scored the lowest out of the three groups, with friends pipping children to the top spot. 

However, the researchers say people are not the issue, it is what people do in the company of each group. 

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks.  

When meeting up with friends, fun activities are on the agenda. On the flip side, being with children and partners often involves chores and other fun-sapping tasks. this causes people to enjoy spending tie with friends more than family (stock)

According to the study, the activities people most frequently perform while with their romantic partners include socialising, relaxing, and eating.

People tend to do similar activities when they are with their friends, too, but these activities make up a greater percentage of their total time together. 

Naturally, people did far more chores and housework with their partners than they did with their pals.  

The power of a smile is not to be underestimated and scientists have now found that even faking one can make you happier. 

Experts found the physical task of smiling activates specific muscles in a person’s cheeks and this triggers positive emotions in the brain. 

Scientists say this has important implications on mental health and could be exploited to help people cope with stress.

 ‘When your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way,’ Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, co-author of a recent study from the University of South Australia, says.

Study author Professor Nathan Hudson from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Texas found 65 per cent of experiences with friends involved socialising.

But people only recorded socialising with their partner 28 per cent of the time.

The skewed data is not a reflection on people’s relationships however. In fact, Professor Hudson is optimistic that people do genuinely enjoy the company of their partners. 

He says that overall, spending time with friends led to the most fun, but when the data was processed to ensure all activities were similar, there was little difference between the three groups.  

‘Our study suggests that [people having more enjoyment with friends than family] doesn’t have to do with the fundamental nature of kith versus kin relationships,’ Professor Hudson says. 

‘Thus, this paper provides an optimistic view of family and suggests that people genuinely enjoy their romantic partners and children,’ he adds.   

But he urges adults to make more of a conscious effort to ‘mentally savour’ the happier experiences with family more than they do. 

Professor Hudson said: ‘It’s important to create opportunities for positive experiences with romantic partners and children and to really mentally savour those positive times.’ 

The full findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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