There has been a lot of research about happiness lately, and among the most important findings is that we tend not to be very good predictors of how happy or unhappy certain life changes will make us in the long run. We overestimate the happiness we'll feel when we get what we think we want. We assume the big new house or the promotion will make us happy—and it does, for a little while. Or we think that a loss will leave us permanently unhappy, and the reality is that we adapt much better than we ever imagined we could.

Another big happiness myth women keep bumping up against is the idea that because we have more choices and opportunities in a post-feminist world, we will be happier than our mothers were. Yet while women today can get advanced educations and have high-powered careers, the truth, as almost everybody knows, is that we are not whistling on a cloud. We are stressed out. We are tired. Sure, we're not feeling as penned in as our mothers were. But we are struggling—truly struggling—to find a way to be happy while trying to do it all.

Related to this is another misconception women seem to harbor today: that perfection and happiness are directly connected. We assume that if we can achieve absolute perfection in our lives, we will be absolutely happy. So therefore it must follow that if we can get our lives to be almost perfect, we will be almost happy, and if our lives are far from perfect, then we will be far from happy.

This seems kind of logical, until you realize what a setup it is. Trying to create a perfect life is a ludicrous goal. Instead of leading us closer to happiness, it leads us farther from it. We feel like failures as we continually fall short of our imagined goal—being that perfectly dressed woman with a perfect job raising perfect children with a perfect husband in a perfect, and perfectly clean, house.


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