Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the happiest time of day? Is it first thing in the morning before your world is in focus? Is it the ride to work when the energy of the day is brewing? Is it that hour lunch break you take where you enjoy the sun high in the sky and a brief change of pace? Is it that last hour of the work day when you're so proud of yourself for making it through, and the end is so near? Is it your first hour free, when you step into the street and the night is yours? Is it dinner time? Bed time? Middle of the night when the world is asleep?
As it turns out, in a study led by psychologist Esther Guillaume, and a large international team of coordinating researchers for the University of California at Riverside, there is actually one hour of the day that most people report having the most pleasurable experiences. That hour is 7 p.m., just as the work day has come to a close and just before dinner has closed the day. It's a magic hour, studies show. The study was spread across 20 countries, in five continents and among 14 languages. The study, which has been detailed in a paper accepted by the Journal of Personality, is actually a psychological study, not anthropological. Participants who were surveyed, were given a range of descriptions to attribute to each time of day. The time could be characterized by "potentially enjoyable," or it "calls for self-restraint," or it "contains physical threats." Within those categories are even more detailed qualifiers like "simple and clear-cut," "social," "potentially enjoyable," "free to speak and feel a range of emotions."
What can be said of this telling, yet fairly limited study is that in cultures around the world, the 7 p.m. vibe is described as a "largely pleasant social interaction." During this hour, people are getting ready for dinner, socializing with their family, friends, and partners. They're collaborating and relaxing, transitioning out of a work mode and into a calm, social mode. This study is interesting for a lot of obvious reasons, but the main takeaway is that despite the vast variations in cultures, there's one hour of the day where people across the world, in all different kinds of lives have something in common. While our life experiences might be nothing alike, our human experience at 7 p.m. is.
So remember, tonight when you're heading into your 7 p.m. chill-zone, you're not alone. Enjoy it, be social, be pleasant, and know that by doing so, you're making a connection with people all over the world. Maybe we should have a horn sound in every time zone at 7 p.m. to let people know it's international chill hour and we're all in this together. Any horn-bearing volunteers?
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