Women’s Happiness — 5 Comments

  1. I think the over-riding principle that explains why women are unhappy despite the modern freedom of choices is “we are the product of our environment.” We live in a capitalist, consumer culture. We are bombarded with messages, if we watch tv, watch movies, read magazines, and read newspapers, that, if what I have heard about the manipulative nature of advertising is true, is intended to keep us constantly comparing ourselves to other people, especially the perfect people in ad’s who have everything that is nice and who seem to be happy. Therefore, none of us, men or women, will be able to be happy if we cannot control our thoughts and emotions in spite of these manipulative messages that try to make us unhappy so that we’ll go out and buy something so that we will feel as good as the imaginery people in the ad’s for a while, and then we feel less-than, and have to go out and buy something else. I explain the fact that women are more unhappy than men because women are more bombarded by consumer messages than men, women are expected to focus on their appearance much more than men, their clothes, their makeup, their hair styles, shoes, shoes, shoes, ha, ha. These are all consumer products telling women to spend, spend, spend, and you’ll feel equal to others, for a while. So I’m saying women are more the victims of media manipulation and until they can break free they will not find lasting, true happiness. But as a man, I must say I do like women who have all of those nice things. That’s my two cents.

  2. Jan: What study shows that “women’s happiness boost when she is healthy and in a relationship”? The only validly designed studies that I’ve seen show that there is no relationships between marriage and happiness, most definitely not a causal relationship (please see Bella DePaulo’s book “Singled Out” for more on that).

  3. Options for happiness are all around us. Getting into a relationships, getting married, having children, healthy perhaps and more. And it is us who will find/choose this option that comfortably suits us. A study shows that women’s happiness boost when she is healthy and in a relationship.


  4. Thank you for your comment, Aaron! What you’re mentioning reminds me of the “buyer’s remorse” found in marketing research: after a purchase, a buyer wonders if they’ve bought the right thing, especially if someone else tells them what kind of a lemon they bought…

    The point I was trying to make, though, isn’t that we have too many options but that we’re expected not to choose but to do it all. I maintain that is the problem, not the quantity of options.

    Also, if we have more options, couldn’t we avoid the remorse you mention by deciding that once we’ve made the choice, we’re done with the choosing? I.e., we don’t go back to question our choice. We accept our choice rather than spending time on what-if scenarios.

    Instead of choosing for Little Mary, we could give her a few options, help her chose (which is a process we need to learn) and then help her accept her choice. I don’t think the solution is choosing for the child (and I don’t know if that’s what you’re suggesting). I agree with you, though, that more options don’t mean greater happiness. However, I don’t think that fewer options mean greater happiness either. It’s what we do with the options and how we react to our choice – if we actually have one – that matters.

  5. Women surely have more options than thirty years ago, and OPTIONS may be part of the problem! As I write about in my new book, more options does not contribute to greater happiness, and often just the opposite. Research has found that too many options leave us befuddled, wondering if we chose the right path, wondering if greater happiness might have been ours had we gone that way instead of this. Perhaps the decline in women’s self-reported happiness over thirty years is part of this phenomenon. I urge parents to avoid the trap in rearing kids–the trap that has us believing that more options for Little Mary will make her a happier child.

    Aaron Cooper, PhD
    author, “I Just Want My Kids To Be Happy! Why you shouldn’t say it, why you shouldn’t think it, what you should embrace instead.”

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