I really should read The New York Times more often.
Every now and then along with the men vs. women studies, come the “how to be happy” studies from think tanks and “scholars” everywhere.
(All they are doing is asking for demographic information along with happiness ratings from a wide range of people, compiling the data and reporting percentages based on the results. No real in-depth info on why people are or are not happy.)
The American Enterprise Institute reported the ongoing results of one such survey in The New York Times, and sure as the sun comes up in the east conservatives excised this paragraph:
Beneath these averages are some demographic differences. For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.
40% is not a majority, and no mention that a good many conservative women are still pursuing happiness due to being caught in the liberal women’s foisted reality that backfired.
Thus multiple headlines along the lines of “Are Conservative Women Happier Than Liberal Women?” popping up in publications all over the blogosphere. The comments from readers who are happy in their lives as conservatives affirm the hypothesis, mostly due to choices made when it comes to being mothers and not regretting it. At least for the women. Men…well, they just seem to be happier when their women are easier to live with.
For those of us who are not mothers, though, sometimes you have to wonder. (We’re so busy trying to scratch out a living, is what really makes us happy getting lost along the way?) Is the pursuit really bringing us happiness and who says the pursuit needs to be about anything above and beyond being loved and comfortable…okay, with the occasional USDA Prime Filet Mignon on the grill with sour cream and gorgonzola sauce.
Seriously, since liberal women dictate a lot of workplace realities and have made men – and a lot of women – nervous about offending them, the rest of us suffer when we can’t get away from them. Talk about people who demand conformity. Not getting into the fear so many men have of being hurt in a relationship after liberal women have driven them mad. Men’s solution: avoid women. Gee, thanks, liberal ladies.
Upon reading the REST of Arthur Brooks’ commentary on findings in the happiness survey in The New York Times piece, it seems that political affiliation has less to do with it than being satisfied in vocational and career decisions.
That, at least, for those of us who have switched career paths on more than one occasion is completely believable. At the age of 18, the talent that presents itself as holding promise for development to be able to support a decent lifestyle may require working in an environment where back-stabbing is a way of life. For men and women who make a habit of living by the golden rule, this is problematic no matter how lovingly talents are developed or how good you are at them. (Ask me about the classical music world sometime.)
But that doesn’t necessarily answer the question on why conservatives are generally more happy.
The answer may lie in being comfortable with decisions, or surrendering to God’s will. It may be the investment in family life and close relationships. It could be satisfaction in the workplace. Any and all of those are possibilities.
At the same time, it should be recognized that not ALL conservatives have that luxury. And some of us work with liberals who are NEVER satisfied, since for them, work is usually a means to an end not a life-long pursuit. As Mr. Brooks puts it, work is seen as drudgery in the current American context, and most liberals are nothing if not fashionable about their thoughts. Wardrobes are a completely different matter.
So, what is the secret to happiness? In the end, each person has his or her own set of criteria. Perhaps that is what the pursuit is all about. Discovering what makes us happy. And, yes, it is a life-long process that does not end until nature takes its course with each of us.
BUT, as every American who is happy knows, it takes liberty to pursue happiness in life. Is that the secret to political conservatives’ happiness? No doubt there will be a study on that topic coming our way soon.