Saturday, August 2, 2008

Who’s the happiest – men or women?

Although I haven’t delved into this area in my work, ABC News reported the results of a research study and got me thinking about it. Many of my clients have battled many different negative issues in their lives – in other words these clients were unhappy – and they are both men and women.

I cannot say one way or the other which gender is happier. But what I can say is that since 2000, I have had more female clients who called me for hypnosis sessions because they suffered depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts and relationship issues than men. These women were composed of students, corporate types and housewives.

The majority of the male clients that contacted me wanted to deal mostly with enhancing their confidence in their professional life, goal setting, and jumpstarting the motivation to start or grow their own business. Only a handful of men who called me battled depression, anxiety or had relationship issues – and those were usually the artistic, emotional and/or right brain types.

Generally speaking, I have found that men focus more on external factors (career oriented, learning something new and gaining material things) and women are focused more internally (feelings, relationships, health, concerned about their looks and/or aging).

From my experience, unwillingness to change, not accepting life, having difficulties in snapping back from adversity, strong sensitivity and negative emotions are some causes for unhappiness.

An article on the New York Times discusses different studies that were made precisely on this topic. One point I found of interest is that in the 1970s women “reported being slightly happier than men. Today, the two have switched places.” Perhaps the answer is here:

“Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more. Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past. Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.”

However, some researchers who have studied the use of time contend that:

“Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They’re spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.

What has changed — and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends — is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents). They can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.”

This trend is even visible among high school kids. Apparently 25% of males vs. 22 percent of women report being happy. More males are becoming happier while the percentage of “happy” females remained the same since the 1960s.
One researcher mentions that perhaps women were happier before because they did not have as many ambitions as they do today. Some people, the research says, have not caught up with the “gender revolution.”

Nonetheless, I have women come to me who work and those who do not work and are supported by their significant other. Some that do not work cannot accept the dependency while others take it for granted. I see a huge problem with self-esteem issues, which is a topic that is not mentioned in the NYT article nor the ABC News report.

Living only inside of one's own world without accepting life around him or her is what I have seen to cause unhappiness in many. Locking into an idea and not ‘letting go’, living in the past, battling anger issues, or being argumentative will also cause unhappiness in either gender.

Below is the clip from the ABC network mentioning which gender is happier.

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