Why Are Women Unhappy?
There are many articles addressing the question – Why are women unhappy? One is an article in the Guardian from May 2016 and another is from an article in Global Light Minds.com on May 17, 2013. It’s June, but then I tend to run behind schedule. I’m always lining up more tasks than I could possibly complete in the time I allotted for them. And that makes me unhappy sometimes. Then I realize how silly that is and I change my schedule to give myself more time to complete my tasks within a more realistic timeframe. See how easy it can be to get happy? Taking responsibility for the choices you are making is a huge step toward happiness.
The Guardian Article
According to one of these articles, women are unhappier today than ever before. I’ll start with that one. It’s the Guardian article.
“Since the 70s, women in the US and Europe have reported feeling less satisfied with their lives”.
The reference (below) is to a paper written by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers who analyzed the happiness trends of US citizens between 1970 and 2005. They published that paper in 2009 (see below).
According to these researchers, women are unhappier in the 21st century than in the previous one. The paper that the Guardian article is quoting makes all kinds of assumptions about why that might be. And they are assumptions. As far as I can tell, all they did was find the trend and then went into a guessing game about why the data trend existed in that form.
What I found most interesting about both the Guardian article and the paper it was based on is that no one seem to consider the possibility that the popular choices women were encouraged to make are the root cause. There were some interesting theories. And by theories I mean guesses. Maybe it was this. Maybe it was that. Maybe, maybe, maybe. All “maybees” were based on the questions they had chosen for their research. It didn’t seem to cross their minds that women were simply making choices that were making them unhappier. And they made those choices based on being told by middle-aged, past their child-bearing years, and extremely unhappy women what would make them happy. Women listened then, and our young women continue to listen today, to these unhappy women. They give credence to what unhappy women say about what will make them happy. And they continue to make choices that make them unhappy. Huhh Imagine that.
The comments offered good information. I loved the very first comment that I saw in the Guardian article. “Women are just experiencing what men have known for years. Life is hard and working is crap[sic].” I softened that last word a bit. This comment summed up one truth quite succinctly. Working for someone else isn’t all that it great.
And then there are the unintended consequences. The reply to that comment addressed that phenomenon. That commenter points out, quite rightly, that in the past there was only one career or job outside the home, and the other person took care of the domestic stuff at home. Could be a man or a woman. Today, when there are two people working, all of that domestic work still remains to be done at the end of the day. Even in the best circumstances where work is shared equally, you end up with two people doing 1½ jobs. So now both are working half again as hard. And this ostensibly so she can be happier. But again, according to the paper by Stevenson and Wolfers, the women are significantly less happy. The reports from men are not changed so much. Only the women report being unhappier. That reminds of the constantly complaining housewife. Only now she is the constantly complaining former housewife and current career woman and super human mom.
Women were unhappy before entering the full time workforce so they demanded to be accepted into the work force as equals. They gave up being housewives and stay-at-home moms because they were unhappy with the responsibility of educating the next generation. They were instructed by modern feminists at that time that it wasn’t good enough. They listened, responded by engaging in careers and now they are even more unhappy.
According to the research paper it is because of everything under the sun except the fact that they left their gender roles in the dust. They left the biological urges that have existed since the dawn of time behind and they are unhappier than ever before. Hmmm. And they just don’t understand how that could be.
The second article I referenced targets the real problem. A profound lack of self-awareness. A profound lack of self-knowledge. And a profound lack of responsibility for creating your happiness from a place of solid understanding of your own mind and heart. The article is by Caroline Myss.
“In a workshop a few years ago, one woman noted, ‘being happy is just so difficult these days.’ It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard similar comments through the years, but something about the way she said it made me stop for a moment. Maybe it was because I had noticed three magazines at the airport that featured articles on how to find happiness, steps to take to guarantee you would be happy, and how to figure out why you weren’t happy.
I leaned back on the table and asked this woman, ‘what do you need to make you happy?’ She drew a blank. Well into her 40s, this woman actually had no idea what she required or wanted or even associated with happiness. All she knew was that she was not happy. I asked, ‘do you know what happiness is for you? Do you associate it with a feeling? Do you associate happiness with things or people? What exactly do you mean by the state of being happy?”
Caroline goes on to say that almost everyone in her workshop was not able to articulate what being happy meant to them. She came to the same conclusion that I have. The reason that we have trouble finding happiness is that WE are the problem. We associate being unhappy with missing something from outside of ourselves. There is something else we need to get that we just don’t have.
Caroline Myss has a similar experience with life force to mine. But she differs from my in that she refers to happiness as a force of nature.
“I am not surprised people find happiness difficult to define: it’s elements are rooted in an inorganic life force. Meaning: we are happy — if not happiest — when we are living in harmony with our inner nature. We feel most content, most balanced, when the choices we make reflect our true feelings. We feel honest and clear. We are not hiding secrets from anyone, we are not betraying ourselves, we are comfortable speaking honestly (not about wounds, just about life), and we feel openly and generously loving towards others.
At the core of this life philosophy is a deep understanding that you are part of nature and that you reside within the cycles and laws of nature. You, and everyone else, are therefore subject to the ongoing cycles of life: death and birth; gain and loss; joy and grief; feast and famine; bonding and abandonment.”
The root cause of unhappiness is a separation from ourselves. These are some of the things that I’ve talked about in earlier podcasts. Listen to the complete podcast for more of my thoughts on this topic.
- Gains in women’s rights haven’t made women happier. Why is that?
- The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, 2009
- Why We Struggle With Happiness