Don't Worry Be Happy?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When a reader forwarded me this article, entitled "Were 1950s Moms Happier?", I felt like she had been reading my mind--just the week before I had been talking with a group of women about the "curse of too many choices," and about a conversation I had with my mom in which she told me that the idea of finding "fulfillment" in her work would never have occurred to her--back in the 70s, when she was a recent immigrant and looking for a job, finding something that paid the bills was the end in and of itself.

According to the article, and the NYTimes article it references, we are a bunch of melancholy mommas. And while there has been much commentary poking holes in this conclusion (the one that resonates most with me is that women in the 1950s might not have honestly reported their unhappiness--think "The Hours"), it is telling that many of the "reasons" people give for this sort of malaise center around an an over-involvement in the lives of our kids, and the constant navel-gazing about "the perfect work-life-family" balance that, let's face it, we all engage in.

Could it be? Could it be that, in trying to craft a delicate system of balance in our lives, we are actually engaging in self-sabotage? I can remember when, in a moment of postpartum haze, I asked my mom if she was "happy" working full time, raising two daughters, putting dinner on the table every night...her answer was this: "It never occurred to me to ask that question." Now, that may seem less than ideal from our oh-so modern and over-analytical vantage point--but, according to this article, perhaps not over-thinking happiness is a precursor for actually being happy.

When I really think about it, I know that more choices and more opportunities are a good thing. Just because I am realizing at this point that there will never be a perfect harmony of everything I want in my life doesn't mean that striving for such a situation shouldn't yield happiness. Bottom line? Sometimes you have to decide to be happy.
Anonymous said...

this is something i think about often and i am not surprised a study has been done on the same. its like when you go to dinner with girlfriends and they are complaining that their husbands dont do certain things that you didnt even care about, and then you think about that stuff in a different light.

th said...

well said, esp last line

Anonymous said...

as much as i hate the idea that not thinking about things can ever be better than thinking about them i also know that some of the "happiest" moms i know don't clutter their minds with half the junk in mine. but it's more complicated than that right? because worrying about certain things means you have a knowledge of them and that you know what's going on in the world and that you have a nunderstanding of life outside of you. not worrying? you sort of live selfishly dont you think:?

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt in my mind that we are more fulfilled and "balanced" than 50s moms. But "happier"? I doubt it. We alays want MORE

L said...

this is the sort of "study" that baffles me as to how it got made in the first place, shouldnt efforts be spent on somethingm ore porductive?!?!?!?!

Arpita said...

Hi, new reader, American based in India and saw the feature in Femina. Great read and great blog. Particularly interesting that there isn't more content to fill the void for "modern" South Asians. Keep it up. Is "Brown Girls" on this blog?

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