People are generally much happier and more motivated when with friends, regardless of what they are doing.
Friends can be hard to catch. So when we do find time, we tend to make the most of it. With friends, we try new restaurants, new adventures, or catch a new live show. We also feel happier with friends even while doing seemingly mundane activities, like chores or studying.
This isn’t to say the secret to happiness is more time with friends. In practice, according to psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, we actually need to spend an average of one-third of our weeks alone, to pursue our other goals like personal development. So, spending more time with friends to achieve greater ‘happiness’ now, may come at the expense of a more fulfilling and satisfying life in the long run.
We can, however, look at the qualities that make spending time with friends so joyful and apply them to our solo time in daily life.
The difference between time with friends and time spent alone, is often how actively we are engaged with the moment. With friends, we are actively conversing or deeply involved in some activity. By contrast, much of our leisure time is spent passively absorbing information.
After a busy week, we all need to relax and unwind. The problem is one of balance, it’s easy to spend far too much time in a passive state, and Csikszentmihalyi believes this is related to why we experience far less happy while alone.
When we spend our free time in active pursuits, like a hobby, reading a book, or even, engaging in solo pleasure - there is much greater potential for engagement with life. And therefore, much greater potential for happiness.