December 30 2013

Seeking Happiness?

Patrice J. Lee

If you are a woman waking up in the United States, you are likely in good spirits today. If you are a conservative woman waking up in the USA you are even happier and it’s no coincidence.

Noted scholar and American Enterprise President Arthur Brooks explores factors that contribute to happiness in his in his recent scholarship. They include genes, higher incomes, satisfying work, and success that is earned.

As Ramesh Ponnuru goes a step further and delves into additional research on women to find that it’s conservative women who come out ahead in the happiness contest:

Other patterns were surprising, at least to me. Women in the United States have long reported greater levels of happiness than men…

Over the last 40 years, women who describe themselves as “conservative” have been more likely than women to their left to say they are “very happy,” and those who say they are “extremely conservative” have been happier still. Over the same period, conservatives in general have held the same pattern: Righty men, too, have been happier than their more liberal counterparts. So maybe the last two presidential elections should be seen as a victory for the redistribution of happiness as well as income.

Brooks’ read is that the four great sources of happiness within human control are faith, family, friends and work. Married people are happier than singles. Those engaged in religious practices are happier than the unchurched.

If we were to draw concentric circles representing the sources of happiness, it should not be surprising that conservative women are the happiest demographic. We tend to place a high value on family, friends and work. When you add in our tendency to religious worship and charitable endeavors our felicity is that much higher.

This should not be used as self-righteous ammunition against our liberal girlfriends and family members. I am just as certain that there are some extremely happy progressive women out there just as there are miserable female conservatives. Still, the research does affirm the value of organizations that are led by, promote and empower conservative women such as the Independent Women’s Forum.

This research also flies in the face of the images and media programs that glamorize the lives of liberal, supposedly liberated women who find their liberation in the bed of a new man each night, their power in the bottom of a martini glass, and their worth from the label on their dress or the bottoms of the shoes.

Conservative women are often mischaracterized as empty-headed homemakers who set the feminist movement back by opting to stay at home and raise their families instead of pursuing the c-suite.  It’s unfair and untrue. For those who do choose a stay-at-home career, it’s a choice they should be free to make without disparagement. What, indeed, should women do? We at IWF have always said that the answer is that women should have the choice to do whatever they want and can do.

Perhaps it’s time to take closer, more serious look at what enriches the lives of conservative women. It may shed light and lessons for women of other philosophical bents and men who seek a more enjoyable existence.

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