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#Happiness is different between gender

February 26, 2012 , , ,

By Tom Muha, For The Capital

Although there are wider differences between individuals than between genders, psychologists have discovered that there are some basic differences between women and men.

One of the most basic distinctions, experts agree, is that women typically experience emotions at the extremes, which is reflected in the fact that twice as many females than males are diagnosed with depression. When reacting to the same set of circumstances, the emotions that a woman feels — whether they’re happy or sad — are usually much more powerful than those of men.

When confronting current stressful situations, strong emotions are triggered in women that are linked to bad feelings from past experiences. Neuroscientists have found that women are much more likely than men to become stuck in dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings regarding prior failures and emotional wounds. This can create brain freeze, inhibiting a woman’s ability to recognize signals that prompt them to take action in order to remedy the immediate situation.

When a woman ruminates, her mind can become obsessed with replaying the story of a past problem, with each reiteration intensifying the emotional impact. Although she may wish for a different outcome, her negative emotions cause her to focus on the worst case scenario that could possibly occur. This cocktail of negative thinking and inaction causes the pathways in her brain to become entrained in a doom loop that results in her becoming depleted of the willpower and energy she needs in order to overcome the current challenge.

Martin Seligman’s research has revealed that women can stop the downward spiral before they become incapacitated. The father of positive psychology suggests two techniques: disputation and finding alternatives. Disputation requires finding your inner lawyer who can challenge the negative interpretations and assumptions that are inherent in the exaggerated story that results from rumination. By removing the emotion and looking at the undistorted facts, a woman can begin to analyze the problem by breaking it down into its component parts and identifying situational rather than personal explanations for what’s causing the problem.

Instead of blaming or criticizing the people involved in the problem, analysis allows for understanding what new behaviors each person could exhibit that would result in a satisfactory change in the situation. This search for solutions sets a woman up for being able to ask for what she wants in order to attain a positive outcome.

While women are famous for multitasking, studies show they tend to live lives that are more crowded and complex than those of men. For that reason they’re often moving too quickly to pause and ponder what it is that will make them happy. Women tend to answer the question of what will make them happy by talking about what others expect of them rather than reflecting on what they want for themselves.

Psychologists recommend that we take time to find a quiet space in which we can close our eyes and listened to our inner guide. This is particularly true for women, who often find themselves besieged by the demands of their children, husbands, friends and workmates. Psychologist Doug Newburghas found that the most successful and satisfied people are those who start their day by asking themselves how they want to feel when evening rolls around. He suggests taking two minutes every morning to begin questioning and reflecting on what activities will stir your passion, utilize your strengths and fulfill your purpose.

Another defining difference between the sexes is that women generally have much deeper connections in their relationships, but have fewer people in their network of friends and colleagues compared to their male counterparts. The data demonstrates that people with broad networks receive higher pay, more promotions and have higher job satisfaction.

Men tend to create transactional relationships while women opt for sincere friendship. However, studies show that success requires having a well-populated business network in which reciprocal relationships provide win-win results for all the parties involved. The art of reciprocity is based on making inquiries to determine what the other person needs, and offering help to the other party with a clear expectation that the favor will be returned at some point in time.

Strategic alliances are the essence of business networks. Top performers are diligent in building their networks. Up to 75% of an individual’s capital in an organization has been found to be based on their ability to create mutually beneficial connections. Hence, the most successful people are constantly surveying the organizational landscape to find opportunities to include people in their network and create win-win outcomes.

Dr. Tom Muha is a psychologist practicing in Annapolis. Previous articles can be found at To contact him, call 443-454-7274 or


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