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I presented the data—gathered and analyzed in the paper "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness"
—revealing the surprising and dreary fact that, over the past 40 years, women's happiness has trended downward as compared to men's
, this despite gradual increases in power and prosperity.
Many of you have offered explanations for this decline, some of you have rejected it as inconsistent with your own lives, and a couple of you have even questioned whether the trends are big enough to bother about.
Regardless of your views on the data, you know better than anyone whether you're happy. You know whether you feel you're living the life you were supposed to live. So, to those of you reading this and thinking, "I can be happier. I want to be happier in my life," here's the prescription. Here's what you can do to find your strongest life. Who We Studied
The frustrating thing (from a researcher's perspective) is that happy, successful women look so very different from each other. Some have broken through the increasingly cracked glass ceiling at work and are now running countries, companies, newsrooms. Some are happy clambering up the corporate ladder, while others have long ago jumped off the ladder and found fulfillment in running their own business or devoting themselves to charity work. Some are employed full-time and have their kids in daycare. Some stay at home. Some used to stay at home while their kids were young but now have on-ramped back into the workforce.
To focus our research, we polled thousands of women on the following five questions and interviewed in-depth those women who could respond "every day" to four of the five. If you want to self-diagnose the kind of life you're living, try them out on yourself:
1. How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
2. How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
3. How often do you get so involved in what you're doing you lose track of time?
4. How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
5. How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?