Happiness is an Unscheduled Hour

No Telling

Ilive less than a block from the local country club. Every afternoon as I drive home I juggle a to-do list in my head while the fellas out on the greens are putting and driving and such. More than once I’ve wondered how the hell they find world enough and time for such pursuits. Who’s taking the kids to practice/cooking dinner/making the Wal-Mart trip/grading their papers? Okay, maybe they don’t have any papers to grade. Maybe they’re all bachelors or widowers. Maybe they have hired help and lots of money to throw at them.

All I know is I’m really, really tired and they look completely relaxed. Happy.

There’s been a great deal of discussion lately concerning a research project by Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. It seems they’ve discovered that in the past thirty years or so, men have become happier than women.

Well. That’s not very hopeful.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I remember watching my mother slave over dull housework and limited choices. Did the repetition of daily thankless work and the pressure of being the perfect wife and mother make her unhappy? I thought so at the time. My fist was hovering in the air and I assumed that not only had we come a Long Way, Baby, we could have our families and launch a career as well. I figured Mom was settling for half a life.

I, on the other hand, planned to have it all. A lot of us did.

It appears this research is actually telling us about our mothers and ourselves, and it’s saying we aren’t as happy as our mamas were. Is that possible? I thought diving into the career pool was supposed to change that, and now it appears all we did was dive into the deep end with heavy Power Suits dragging us down. There’s a scary Cult of Perfection we bought into along the way, so now we have to be superhuman in our relationships, jobs, and appearance.

Aunt Bee never worried about her abs, I’ll bet.

The study cites all manner of reasons for women’s waning happiness other than our leap into the office. Interestingly, they find that all women are unhappy, no matter what their days look like. To get to the bottom of it, there’s another study of women who rate themselves as whole and happy.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/js/2.0/video/evp/module.js?loc=dom&vid=/video/bestoftv/2009/09/27/whitfield.men.happier.women.cnnCNN Video

So how do we measure happiness? Here are the five questions from the CNN video. How do you answer them?

1. How often do you do what you like to do?
2. Do you anticipate the day with joy/dread?
3. Do you get so involved that you forget time?
4. Do you feel invigorated?
5. How often do you have an emotional high?

I’m not completely sure what makes men happier than women, but I have an inkling that they don’t worry the same way we do. Men compartmentalize such things and we tend to compound them instead. I could name fifty-eleven bits I’ve planned for or scheduled or worried about just during the time it took to write this blog post. I’ve also been multitasking by doing laundry and brewing iced tea for tomorrow. For me, writing is the answer to several of those questions up there, but I’ve managed to complicate all the fun out of it tonight.

Maybe I just need to take up golf instead.