What Is Quality Time?

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Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project is an insightful, practical study of human happiness. For one year, Rubin set out to research and implement strategies for improving overall quality of life. She started by reading self help novels, analyzing clinical studies, and making a list of personal goals and mantras. To test her research, she applied her findings to her own daily life. Through this practical application, Rubin weeded out the bad or impractical advice, and honed in on the advice that truly impacts happiness. Rubin spent a lot of time analyzing romantic relationships: what keeps them going, what makes them fulfilling and why. In this area, through her research and practical application, the importance of “quality time” became obvious.

“Quality time” spent with loved ones, she found, is a huge factor in overall happiness. In her compiled research, she found that men and women have a drastically different opinion of what defines “quality time”. Not surprisingly, men perceive “quality time” as almost any time spent with a loved one. Whether you’re sitting in the same room reading, sitting next to one another watching television, or completing a task or chore, this is considered by most men to be “quality time”. What do women think?

Gretchen discovered that “quality time” for women means face-to-face interaction. Women didn’t have the same “everything goes” approach as the men, and this is a telling sign about the often conflicting expectations between sexes. Maybe you went over to your girlfriend’s house last night, watched a movie and fell asleep. You consider this “quality time”. She does not.

So, how’s a guy supposed to take Gretchen’s findings and use them to his advantage? Let’s investigate.

Women have a certain expectation for interaction and mutual sharing, but men are happy to just be with the person. But are men as fulfilled as women when it comes to spending their brand of “quality time”?

Interestingly enough, the study found that the amount of “quality time” spent with women directly influenced the happiness of both women and men. Time spent with men did not affect the happiness of any individual in her research. On page 52, Gretchen comes to a realization: “Perhaps because men have this low standard for what qualifies as intimacy, both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men.”

So, no matter whether you’re a man or a woman, you need face-to-face interactions in order to fulfill your happiness quota.

This means that, if you’re a woman in a relationship, it’s important to maintain contact with your female friends in order to get that true “quality time” that leads to happiness. It also means that if you’re a man in a relationship, it’s important that your girl or your female friends get you to sit down for that one-on-one time.

Gretchen’s findings don’t really demand that you have to spend time with women in order to be happy. What they really tell, is that you need to get that face-to-face interaction in order to feel connected and fulfilled. And for the average man, this is where you can score some brownie points.

Planning a dinner date, at home, for just the two of you, can go a long way. You don’t need to be her perpetually-present shoulder, but acknowledge the benefit of opening up once in a while. If you engage in her version of “quality time” on your own terms, the quality of your relationship will improve. Turn off the movie and ask her about her day. After all, this type of interaction won’t just increase her happiness; it will increase yours, too.

 
 

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