happiness study
A chart depicting a person's ideal time usage during the day. Journal of Economic Psychology

A team of researchers has discovered the formula for a perfect day. The secret? Less time spent communing and working and more time with loved ones.

The results come from a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology. In the study, conducted by Christian Kroll of Germany’s Jacobs University and Sebastian Pokutta of Georgia Tech, a team of researchers surveyed people in the hope of finding activities that they deemed most deeply fulfilling.

Researchers eliminated from the responses rare or hyper-specific activities that most people are unlikely to encounter in their day-to-day lives, such as rock climbing. Instead, researchers focused on the basics: eating, socializing, working, meditating, etc. In the end, researchers found that activities such as "intimate relations," exercise, eating, and socialization contributed towards a happier overall day.

Ultimately, researchers found that people could attain maximum happiness by dividing their days into periods of 106 minutes of intimate relations, 82 of socializing, 78 of relaxing, 75 of eating, 73 of praying or meditating, 68 of exercising, 57 of talking on the phone, 56 of shopping, 55 of watching TV, 50 of preparing food, 48 of computer use, 47 of housework, 46 of napping, 46 of caring for children, 36 of work, and 33 minutes of commuting.

Of course, it isn’t possible for everyone to achieve the perfect day every day. Really, the study isn’t really meant as a minute-by-minute guide for people to follow and soak up every possible bit of happiness from their days, especially considering the study’s advice to only work for 36 minutes. Imagine the wave of firings that might occur if people took it literally.

Instead, think of the study as a guide. Find ways to maximize activities that bring joy -- for instance, spend longer amounts of time savoring meals instead of wolfing them down -- and work to reduce time spent commuting and watching television.