Sunday, September 20, 2009


Maureen Dowd's op-ed in the NYT today:

According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.
I'm not making judgments on these studies and their scientific or social accuracy. For all I know they are solid studies. For all I know, they're quackery. It's the reaction to these publications that I find disturbing.

Personal observations can be dismissed as anecdotal and tainted by a lack of objectivity. Be that as it may, I've noticed that reports like these tend to give many women (and men) something to point at and say, "See, proof that women ARE depressed!" and snuggle down into what they now see as justifiable malaise.

Yes. Women often juggle two demanding jobs. Yes. Women are not treated equally in the workplace. Yes, yes, yes, women are judged on their looks in ways that critically devalue their talents and intelligence.

It sucks and it's wrong.

But it's external. EXTERNAL. And the only way for that gross unfairness to destroy you is if you let it in and make it comfortable.* Forgive the annoying self-help sound of that. We are not helpless. And the old adage is true: Living well is the best revenge. If you're not happy, stop sulking and sighing. Figure out how to get happy. Or happier.

Happiness is not something presented to you, wrapped up in a pretty, beribboned box. It's not something that you experience and keep forever. It's not something that solves all your problems. It's not a automatic perk of financial success or physical beauty. Common sense, right?

Start small. Do something that makes you happy. Focus on that. Repeat.

*I have met so many people who seem invested in misery. They invite it in, serve it some nice tea and make sure it feels right at home. When good things happen to them, they are reminded by their permanent house guest of all the wrongs done to them or that something shitty is just around the corner. Many people look at their past and bemoan that they should have appreciated their youth, enthusiasm, potential or health. Whatever patience I once had has been worn thin on this. Boot your inner hand-wringer and stop investing in your own gloom.

1 comment:

e. said...

"beribboned." good word.