Here's How to Be Happy: Shorten Your Work Commute by 20 Minutes

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That doesn't look like a great way to start the workday. A new report suggests many people would consider a 19 percent pay cut if it meant a shorter daily commute. Nacho Doce/REUTERS

“I love my tedious, long commute to work.” —No one, ever

If you feel like your daily work commute is sucking the life out of you, then you’re not alone. New research confirms that all of the time we use up waiting for a bus or train and sitting in our cars is making us miserable. So miserable, in fact, that many of us would choose less pay over a shorter commute if it were an option. According to Business Insider, adding 20 minutes of extra commuting time per day makes a person just as miserable as taking a 19 percent pay cut.

The report also finds that among all the modes of transportation used to get to work, people who took the bus or train were least satisfied with their life than those who walked or biked everyday.

“The journey to work has the potential to affect well-being in various ways. Commuting may be stressful and adversely affect mood during and after the journey, ultimately affecting mental and physical health,” the researchers write. “Time spent commuting may worsen well-being by consuming time that workers would rather spend on family and social activities.”

The report, produced by the Economic and Social Research Council at the University of the West of England in Bristol, suggest that the best way to stay happy—in life and on the job—is to spend less time on the road. The report is based on questionnaires of more than 26,000 employees in England who were surveyed over the course of five years.

Daily commuting times are generally long for people living in developed nations, notes Business Insider which looked at data from WNYC that finds Americans spend an average of 50 minutes a total each day commuting to work.

This is not the first study to examine how traveling for work impacts our overall health and well-being. Another study published in World Leisure Journal, concluded that people with the longest commutes have the lowest overall satisfaction with life. The authors suggested that people who have long commutes to work constantly feel time pressure such as rushing to catch the last morning rush hour train. In that study, people listed waiting in traffic as the top reason why their long commute caused unhappiness, while having limited time to enjoy physical leisure activities was second on the list for many. We all want to keep moving forward on life—as long as it's not by bus, car or train. 

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