Chances are you could use some extra free time. More than one-third of women reported taking just one to three hours per week for themselves in a 2013 survey conducted by Jessica N. Turner, author of The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. But if we spend those moments wisely, we can get more out of them. For well-being, we need to feel both satisfaction, which comes from accomplishment, and joy, which is a more slippery concept, says Sarah Gundle, a clinical psychologist in New York City. "Joy is more about relaxing into a realm where you aren't controlling anything." Can you spot the difference? Consider each of the following ways to spend a solo hour or two, and determine which are joyful and which are satisfying.

Option 1
You rearrange your beloved books, setting aside a few to donate.

Option 2
You go for a run—that's your meditation time, and you want to try a marathon.

Option 3
You wander a museum, stopping to ponder pieces that draw you in.

Option 4
You peruse the farmers' market for your favorite family activity: cooking together.

If you pegged Option 3 as joyful, bravo! Satisfying activities may be pleasurable, but they have an agenda. Option 1, about organizing and donating, is productive and largely benefits others. The same is true of Option 4. In Option 2, running is goal-oriented rather than purely contemplative. To find out what brings you joy, ask yourself: Is this activity just for me? Does it yield external results or internal harmony? Whether it's taking nature walks or listening to music, Gundle says, make time to accomplish absolutely nothing.


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