Raising children well can take about as much time as most adults can put into it. Our US society is currently suffering for too much parental time put into work and then other distractions. and not enough time spent with kids. The same goes for the effort reuired to maintain social relations with freidns and neighbors. That is historically way most human adults spent most of their time -- raising kids and being social. For reference on a hunter/gatherer lifestyle:
I readily agree that people need a sense of "agency" -- that they are accomplishing things to make their life better. But whether that needs to be withing a structured system of economics we call "work" entailing bosses and customers and "wage slavery" is a different question (even if most of us practically have few other short-term alternatives to work).
Related to you point, many people like playing a hunter/gatherer in an abundant Minecraft world a lot. Yet, maybe part of that is indeed because of the abundance and the possibilities? Yet, in US society, many people are arbitrarily shut out from all the abundance. This kind of stuff (or the need for it) is just wrong in such a wealthy society:
If "welfare is a fast road to unhappy dependency", then:
A. Why do rich people tend to give their children lots of expensive things including Ivy League educations, good cars, condos, trust funds, and so on?
B. Would you turn down a million dollar cash gift?
C. Do monthly "Social Security" payments to any citizen in the USA over age 65 cause enormous distress to the elderly?
If you think about these three questions, you may find a missing piece of the puzzle of a picture of the future.
However, your point about the cost of living going down is indeed true and needs to be kept in mind. On the other hand, decreasing costs also generally implies less money going to fewer people. But the marketplace only "hears" the needs of those with cash. If you have zero money, then you can't afford a place to sleep or put your stuff. And further, automation tends to concentrate wealth (at least initially).
Productivity has doubled or triples over the last few decades in the USA, but real wages for most workers have remained flat (granted, health insurance benefits have increased, but it is not clear people are that much healthier for that). That is a political issue about fairness as well as power.
I'd agree humans want interaction with other humans (generally), but whether that is best in the context of payments (as opposed to gifts or family and friend interactions) is another question. For example, I prefer to have my wife cut my hair than to go to a barber or hair salon.
Another thing to consider is that perhaps all humans have some claim on some of the fruits of the commons?
BTW, on NYC homeless:
It sounds there like the "means testing" and uncertainty and constant changes create much of the stress related to the "hand out" compared to something like a basic income for all with no means testing. Countries in Western Europe with better social safety nets than the USA don't seem to suffer from it. Germany, for example, pays auto workers twice what they get in the USA:
Linux came out of Finland in part because of Finnish support for education...
"Torvalds thus decided to create a new operating system from scratch that was based on both MINIX and UNIX. It is unlikely that he was fully aware of the tremendous amount of work that would be necessary, and it is even far less likely that he could have envisioned the effects that his decision would have both on his life and on the rest of the world. Because university education in Finland is free and there was little pressure to graduate within four years, Torvalds decided to take a break and devote his full attention to his project."
So, Linus apparently used his "unearned subsistence" for a different kind of revolution... Which is maybe exactly what some people have against that sort of "free" time? See also the James P. Hogan sci-fi book "Voyage from Yesteryear" for some thoughts on that.
See also "Cheap Labor Conservatives":
"Cheap-labor conservatives don't like social spending or our "safety net". Why. Because when you're unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like â" which is inevitably next to nothing. You see, they want you "over a barrel" and in a position to "work cheap or starve"."
So, lots of issues to consider as we fill in the bigger picture.
Yet, another layer of spin is the increasing "acceleration of addictiveness" in our society via "Super Normal Stimuli" and "The Pleasure Trap" (all books or essays by others). And Isaac Asimov wrote in his sci-fi about how robots realized they would destroy humanity from lack of initiative. So, I'm not disagreeing with some of your core theme of "agency" -- just trying to make it more nuanced in the context of opportunity, growing inequality, political power, equity, and so on... Motivation is a tricky thing:
"RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us"
And the fact is, increasing wealth often gives us more "agency" as far as choices:
Bill Gates was born a millionaire. But he still did a lot (for good or bad):
So, the connection between subsistence(or wealth) and motivation and happiness is complex.
BTW, my thoughts on why even millionaires should support higher taxes and a basic income: