Howdy, folks. New day, new topic.
Thanks for weighing in on yesterday's post about workplace favoritism though. We had record traffic in the hallways of Burnettiquette.
Anyway, moving right along, I've been reading parts of a study on happiness from the University of Chicago.
The study looks at 47,000 people, presumably an equal split of men and women, since the focus of the study was whether and when men are happier than women, or women than men.
In a nut shell, the results of the study are that in their 20s, women are typically happier than men. The study's authors say that revelation seems to be tied to the facts that younger men in their 20s tend to have "weak" love lives and pretty crummy first jobs. I agree those two things are enough to make any guy miserable.
However, the study said that into the late 40s the happiness gap closes steadily between men and women. By the late 40s the gap has essentially closed. And older than that men are significantly happier than women.
I can't speak to the older elements of this study, but I like to think I was pretty happy in my early 20s. I had a pretty good job - completely earned if any of my detractors from yesterday are reading, I was in college, I was healthy and had a pretty good physique back then, even if I do say so myself, and I had a few nice girlfriends.
If we're being totally honest though, I admit I was bummed out sometimes that I wasn't better with the ladies back then. In fact, I was terrible! In retrospect, I'm surprised I ever got a date before I turned 25. So that part of the study I believe. But while I was sometimes disappointed with my job back then, it wasn't 'cause I had a bad job. It was because I had a tough, sometimes physically grueling job that often left me tired nearly to the point of tears when I got off work at 7 a.m. and headed to my first college classes of the day. So I think I'm gonna disagree with the job happiness element of the study.
Having studied my folks (married nearly 40 years) and other "successful" couples over the years, I'm gonna take a "wild" leap and speculate on how and why the happiness gap closes between the sexes beyond the 20s: I'll bet there's a direct correlation between men and women in increasing and lowering rates of happiness, respectively, and men and women who are in long-term relationships like marriage, as they age.
I'll bet that there is more happiness parity between men and women who remain single as they inch toward their later years.
My logic is that single people, regardless of age, can spend more of their energy on satisfying themselves. And when people get married or settle down together it seems they sacrifice some of their own happiness for the sake of their partner's happiness and for the sake of compromise - for the happiness of the relationship. I'm not saying they sacrifice grudgingly. I'm sure it's often willing. But everything I've ever read about traditional relationships between men and women suggests that women tend to sacrifice more for their men's happiness than the other way around - giving up things like career dreams to make sure their guy reaches his career goals, taking the lead on raising and nurturing the kids, etc.
I know my mom's happy. But I know she's devoted a lot of her time to making sure my dad, and my sister and I were happy. So inevitably she's focused less of her attention on her own happiness. Then again, maybe doing for us is what's made her happy over the years. And I'm confident Mrs. B is happy, but I know she's sacrificed in order to help me advance my career.
CBS News reporter Cynthia Bowers has an interesting take on this, in which she touches on the family-raising element, and the all-around stress of aging itself.
So what say you? Am I all wet here, or does my theory make sense?