Tell me, who wouldn't dream of being declared "the happiest woman of" anything?...
Who, me? Ha! I can count my many blessings, and I'm fairly happy I guess, but can you please ask me back this question when I can sleep through the night again, and don't have the feeling I'm always running around like a headless chicken anymore?
USA Today recently ran a profile on what makes women happy, and even portrayed a real-life person who most closely embodies the components.
So meet the Happiest Woman in America: Mary Claire Orenic (here with her family).
She's 50, and she lives in Manhattan Beach, a very nice, affluent LA suburb. She has a 17 year old son, who's doing well in school as well as in sports, and is pretty autonomous. She's happily married to an optometrist, and has a meaningful full-time executive job at Siemens (for which she telecommutes twice a week). She grew up in Wisconsin, and achieved her childhood dream of forgoing frigid winters to go live by the sea in sunny SoCal (this dream sounds vaguely familiar, wink-wink). She has traveled quite a bit, both during her single years as a twenty-something, and now through her job. Fitness is a priority for her, as is, evidently, maintaining her (rail-thin) figure. Her parents are healthy, which means that they are not a source of worry for her. She has an active social life, and many people she knows she can depend on. She loves her house and her community. You can read more about her here.
So here are the nuts and bolts of this well-being as stated or hinted from the article:
- A strong partnership, including a chance to rekindle the relationship when children are grown
- Kids, but not too many of them
- No people that heavily depend on you
- Fulfilling career ("Younger Boomers of highest well-being are the most career-oriented of any women. Most work full time, a striking difference from younger and older generations of high well-being women, most of whom do not work". )
- Loved ones are doing well
- Relative financial security ("They enjoy a family income of $120,000 and up. Money is important but not top priority.")
- Strong support network
- Positive attitude
- Pleasant physical surroundings (including climate)
- Short commute
- Time for exercise
- Healthy lifestyle
- BMI under 30.
There aren't many surprises there... Under these circumstances, who wouldn't be happy? But I'm wondering... Are these necessary to be happy (both the factors you can control and the ones you can't?), or can you be happy regardless because you just decide to be? Does it all sound like bs to you? The fact is this woman carved herself what some commenters referred to as "the perfect life"... She worked hard, stayed focused on achieving her goals, relocated, and carefully assessed her decisions, and I have immense respect for that. But granted, there is also a lot of luck and (when you think of it, incredible) chance in having been mostly sheltered from life's tragedies... A lot of bitterness in the comments seems to indicate that the average level of happiness in USA Today readers is *very low*, by the way.
There are some givens (like living somewhere nice and sunny), some slippery slopes (hinting that well-being and young children are not entirely compatible, which I'm not completely disagreeing with), and some harsh, unfortunate, unfair and crazy but still probably somewhat true indicators (racial background, weight)...
What do you think?