Why Happiness is Overrated
Women are less happy than they used to be.
At least according to thousands of surveyed women over the course of four decades. This is a fact that many of the Alt Right crowd loves to bring up to explain why women should get back to the kitchen . “Look,” they say, “the cultural shift towards women in the workplace has made them unhappy. Empowering women to have it all just makes them miserable.”
It’s possible they’re right. It’s not like there’s any other explanation for a decrease in subjective measurements of happiness: decreases in social cohesion brought on by an ever-widening, technological world, for example. The fact that we spend all day in a virtual reality where we get to see how everyone else appears to have it better than us couldn’t play a roll. And it sure couldn’t be that women’s expectations have been raised to want more than a clean home and a satisfied husband.
Nope, it’s clearly that we’re unhappy that we’ve been “forced” into working grueling, unfulfilling jobs by radical feminazis hell bent on destroying the family values of America (Let’s not mention that the economic policies of predominately male politicians have made it practically impossible for a family to survive on a single income).
So, let’s say they’re right.
Let’s say that working has made women less happy. I’m here to contend that happiness is overrated.
Don’t get me wrong here. I have a niece and seeing the joyful expression on her face when she’s happy is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I want her to be happy; but I don’t just want her to be happy. It’s a declaration that we often hear from our loved ones — “I just want you to be happy, dear.” And often they mean it. They just want you to be happy. Better for you to be content and settled down then off chasing bigger and better things where you could easily get hurt.
But happiness isn’t meant to be a permanent state.
Studies are increasingly pointing to the idea that humans have a baseline level of happiness that they always return to. Positive events like marriage, a promotion, or a sudden influx of money are likely to increase our happiness for a while, but once we’ve adapted to them, our happiness levels go back to normal.
This makes sense. If we were in a permanent state of contentment, we’d never accomplish anything. Why work hard for the next promotion when you’re so happy with this one? Why have kids when you’re just so elated to be married? Why fight for equal opportunities when you’re content with the opportunities you have.?Why try to make things better for other people when your life is fine?
So I mean it when I say I don’t’ “just” want my niece to be happy.
I want her to dream. I want her to work hard to achieve those dreams. I want her to fail on the way and then get up and keep dreaming so that when she finally achieves them, she can truly appreciate it. I want her to empathize with others. I want her to feel their pain so she can reach out and help them. I want her to be willing to risk her own happiness to make the world a better place. I want her to know that the pinnacle of happiness is out there, always just beyond her reach. And I want her to keep reaching anyway.