Happiness: The Female Perspective
July 25, 2012
By Kristen Houghton, Author of ‘No Woman Diets Alone’ and ‘And Then I’ll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness’
“No matter how objective you want, or try, to be, every issue you see will be subjective. You carry with you all in life that has made you the person you are, your gender included.”
So said the professor in my journalism class back in my university days. In other words, what and who you are, will influence how you view a situation.
So it is with happiness, a topic which is always trending. We’re either not happy or not happy enough, according to various surveys and media experts. Several years ago, Marcus Buckingham created quite a stir with his articles on “women’s diminishing happiness.” There was a media frenzy concerning why women in particular weren’t happy. Happiness or the lack thereof was in the air then and still continues to consume our minds now.
And while I feel that any discussion about changing a person’s life from negative to positive (male or female) is conducive to attaining happiness, with all due respect to Mr. Buckingham, I think he came at it strictly from a male’s point of view. That point of view is slightly skewed to who and what a person is, and it isn’t female. Ask any woman how she views life and how her male partner views it and you will come up with some very different ideas and attitudes about happiness. It has nothing to do with intelligence and practicality and everything to do with viewpoint.
I would never say that male counselors and life coaches, or even Dr. Phil, don’t give out excellent advice, I’m sure they do. But, and there’s a tremendous pause for reflection in that coordinating conjunction here, no matter how hard they may try to feel what a woman is feeling and seeing, they simply can’t, not completely. Their advice is male-oriented. Good, excellent, top of the line, but still coming from a man’s perspective and missing something that is essential to women’s needs.
As a woman, my subjectively female theory is that women are no less happy now than past generations were. I have interviewed over 100 women for articles and for books. They ranged in age from those in their 20’s to those in their 60’s, and they were from all walks of life and educational levels. Not being happy had no age, educational or social limit. The pursuit of happiness is an ongoing activity.
Maybe even with all our advances and advantages in life, we still haven’t found the right mix of what will provide just the right feeling that allows us to be happy. Men don’t seem to have the same problem but then, perhaps, they never did. Certainly the men I know personally and professionally seem to be more content with their lives than my female friends and I. Or at least they let us think they are.
And then too, what is happiness or unhappiness? Isn’t it simply that subjective personal perspective my professor talked about? Don’t we carry the many parts that make us who we are, including our sex, all our lives and make determinations of “what’s what” by those factors? My idea of happiness may not be another woman’s idea of it. Your idea of misery may be just a bad day for someone else. You see? Subjective!
If a woman’s perspective of happiness is defined by a male, it won’t work. As much as I love the helpful, compassionate men in my life, they are seeing the world differently than I do.
Is happiness an attainable goal and if it is attained, can it be sustainable? Should we even hope to be happy all the time? It is possible that the ebb and flow of days, with its ups as well as downs, may be what real happiness is supposed to be.
The male perspective of happiness is not the same as a female’s nor is a female’s idea of what constitutes happiness the same as a male’s and that’s okay. Maybe we each need to define what our personal happiness really looks like and not depend on what others tell us it should be. There’s a positive angle in seeing things subjectively.