There has been a lot of press around the research that prompted Marcus Buckingham’s latest book, Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women do Differently. The studies declare women to be less happier than they were 40 years ago.
Really, less happy than my mother? I don’t think so.
I believe the research is flawed in that it uses happiness as a general rating without breaking down the factors that define what women need to feel “happy.”
In my research with women in the workplace, I find that women are often frustrated and disappointed at the inconsistent recognition for their achievements and the lack of frequent, new challenges to keep their minds and talents engaged. Yet these emotions don’t stack up to a general unhappiness.
When I asked my research participants to share one thing they would like to have more of in life, most of the comments centered on wanting more “peace of mind, contentment, a sense of purpose, serenity and spiritual connection.” Out of 100 respondents, NONE said they wanted to be more happy.
I believe that strong, active women are happy with the opportunities life now offers them. They are restless, busy and even exhausted at the end of the day, but they wouldn’t give up their lives to replicate what women had 40 years ago. They may be disappointed that their goals are harder to reach than they had expected, but they would rather have too many choices to deal with than feel restricted as our mothers did.
My mother was angry most of her life. Then she gave up and mentally checked out. She never had the opportunity to live up to her potential and achieve her goals. This is a picture of unhappiness. I may be working way too hard to achieve what she could not, but I am grateful and happy that I am living now and not 4o years ago.
There are some good tips in Buckingham’s book. You can find many of these in articles he is sharing around the Internet (Google Find Your Strongest Life). I just don’t care for the view that we are unhappy and unaware of our strengths. I believe the subtitle for my book, Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction (to be released next June) better defines what is missing for today’s working women. Notice that I didn’t say “find happiness and personal power.” It’s time books for women recognize that we have evolved and quit comparing, defining, and judging us against our mother’s generation.
We are not the weaker sex. We are not depressed and unsure of our abilities. We need to unite and tell people who we are as strong, passionate women today and what we really need. Help me forward this message to clear up this misunderstanding.