The GuardianThe Guardian

The radical power of hanging out

By Elle Hunt

19 Jan 2023 · 7 min read

Editor's Note

Is the key to happiness doing everyday activities with your friends? The Guardian discusses how we can free up our schedules to allow time for the joy that comes from just hanging out.

Some of my fondest memories of friends should, by rights, be entirely forgettable. There was that time we took our books to the park and dozed. The time we sat by the sea drinking coffee, watching the waves. The time we assembled my flatpack furniture (well – I watched), ordered a pizza and watched TV.

Fifteen years ago, these open-ended hangs were effortless and my social life flowed with only the lightest steer. Fast-forward to now, and – whether it’s the difference between being in my 30s versus my 20s, or 2023 versus 2013, or a pile-up of both – often the best I can manage is a quick drink after work in three weeks’ time. No one, myself included, is ever free to just hang out. “I’d love to,” I say, sincerely – but there is always a “but”.

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