Amherst professor Catherine A. Sanderson on how men and women experience marital satisfaction differently.
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Child-centric parenting lets parents find more meaning in childcare.
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There is a motif, in fiction and in life, of people having wonderful things happen to them, but still ending up unhappy. We can adapt to anything, it seems—you can get your dream job, marry a wonderful human, finally get 1 million dollars or Twitter followers—eventually we acclimate and find new things to complain about.
If you want to look at it on a micro level, take an average day. You go to work; make some money; eat some food; interact with friends, family or co-workers; go home; and watch some TV. Nothing particularly bad happens, but you still can’t shake a feeling of stress, or worry, or inadequacy, or loneliness.
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"If you have a fatalistic view of life, the answer will utterly not surprise you. The planet’s happiest denizens reside in wealthy countries, whereas the least joyful live in impoverished nations. People with mid-range levels of contentment seem to have crowded into Russia, for what it’s worth."
[Graphic via Jonathan Hull]
When a Guardian journalist visited Bhutan recently, the country’s “mystical” quotient did not disappoint. Among other things, the writer noted “men and women laboring in song,” a woman “scampering around churning a pot of yak butter tea,” and the “sound of mule bells ringing in the valley.” As he reaches the remote mountain home of a local herder, the man quips, as though starring in a tourism commercial, “You know, happiness is a place.”
Indeed, it’s a rare Bhutan story that doesn’t mention how irrepressibly joyous the country is.
The recently released 2013 UN World Happiness Report devotes a sizable section to Bhutan, attempting to quantify the happiness levels of the only country that prioritizes contentment over income.
The country’s 1729 legal code stated that, “if the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.” In 1972, this sentiment was codified when Bhutan’s King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, instituted a “Gross National Happiness” as its official measure of progress, superseding the more traditional Gross National Product in importance. The country’s constitution directs the state “to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.”
Read more. [Image: Andrees Latif/Reuters]
When I was 13, I dreamed of kissing boys in the backseat of a car while Scorpions, a German hard rock outfit, crooned “Winds of Change” from the car stereo. It’s still kind of a bummer that never happened: Boys at my high school were much more infatuated with the idea of making out to Dave Matthews Band, and I had to work with what I could get.
I’d known for a long time that my love for heavy music wasn’t shared by many of my peers. I’m sure there were other girls like me out there—ones who’d owned a tape of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction since they were six, other kids who thought Mötley Crüe’s “Dr. Feelgood” was a song about a nice guy who just wanted to share his “sugar” and “candy cane” with his friends. I just never met many kids, especially girls, who liked music on the louder end of the spectrum—I chalked that up to being quirky.
Though loud music always had some place in my heart, it wasn’t until my early 20s when I truly fell in love with the power of the riff. And it wasn’t because I wanted to feel angry. Loud music had the opposite effect on me: It calmed me down.
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Use judiciously, but be not afraid.
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People who are happy but have little-to-no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are enduring chronic adversity.
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It’s all about the psychological power of adaptation and relativity with money. Adaptation: At first, the thrill of becoming millions of dollars richer is, well thrilling, but after a while, the thrill wears off. Relativity: Winning the lottery creates an indelible memory, a comparison point, that makes typical life events seem disappointing and boring. Money can buy happiness, if you know how to spend it, but the incidence of winning the lottery does not, on its own, buy much happiness at all. In the long-term, it can be a net cost to life satisfaction.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
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