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Study Shows Spending Time with Friends Makes Us Happier than Family

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New research suggests we are happier when we are with friends than when we are with family. 

Researchers found that the company of our family is almost as depressing as the company of our work colleagues and clients. 

The study was done by the London School of Economics. They collected data from smartphone users who used an app to record their level of happiness over three years.

Called the Mappiness app, designed by George MacKerron, it worked by sending alerts to users at random times asking them how happy and relaxed they were at that moment.

More than 50,000 people downloaded the app and logged three million responses.

Respondents had an improved mood of more than 8 percent when they were with friends, but that fell to 5.9 percent when they were with their partners.

When they were with their children, the happiness level rose to just 1.4 percent. This is less than the happiness produced from walking, going to the library and drinking alcohol.

This was almost the same as the .7 percent mood increase when the participants were interacting with clients or at work.

Many people who took part in the study were surprised by the results.

"The results were not as I expected," Rachael Gaunt, 49, said. "As they suggested I was happiest when I was alone and outdoors, which does not typically represent the life of a full-time working architect, mother of two young boys and generally busy person."

The goal of the study was to determine who happy people feel in specific moments, rather than how they believe they felt in retrospect, as this can often be distorted.

Another surprising detail they found was that we are happiest after we have sex, as this raised moods by an average of 14 percent.

But researchers think this was an understatement as people are unlikely to reach for their phones while they are having sex.

We are unhappiest when we are sick, as this reduced the mood by 20.4 percent.

Working and studying also proved depressing, as it lowered happiness levels by 5.4 percent. 

While these are just rough estimates of what makes us happy, researchers say we can make ourselves happier by being more active.

"In order to have a happy life, a rewarding life you need to be active. So involvement is more important to happiness than meaning in the sense of why, why we are here," Professor Ruut Veenhoven said. 

"Research has shown that we can make ourselves happier because happiness changes over time."

Other studies indicate that we are happier when we are in long-term relationships, are actively engaged in politics, are active in work and in your free time, go out for dinner and have close friendships. But the number of close friendships does not increase happiness. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Independent Online

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