The XX Factor

A Female Happiness Strategy

This week on the DoubleX gabfest, Hanna, Margaret Talbot, and I talked about the studies showing that female happiness among secular, educated women has declined since the advent of feminism. Hanna mentioned an experiment she and Jess are embarking on. It’s simple but radical: They’re not complaining. And they’re tracking whether that makes them happier. More on that from them soon. In the meantime, a listener wrote in with another strategy:

The suggestion about going a week/month/season without complaining reminded me of something I did several years ago and I think it contributed a great deal to how happy I am now (and I wish I’d been part of that study because I would hope I could have upped the average happiness of the non-“born again,” professional woman). My law school roommate (also a woman) noticed that I was way too critical of myself and suggested I give it up. It sounded silly at the time, but I did start to take notice of each time I was telling myself I wasn’t smart enough or didn’t talk enough in class or wasn’t thin enough, etc. (I’m not a mom, but I suppose it could work for any “I’m not a good mother” thoughts, too.) And bit by bit, I stopped saying those things aloud, and then stopped even thinking them. Or maybe that just happens to all women over 30? But given the number of older, anorexic women I see around, I suspect it’s not a given.

Who’s got another strategy?