Only half of women in South Africa report being generally happy with their lives (51%). The other half report being either in a neutral state regarding happiness (32%), or worse still, either unhappy or very unhappy (18%). This state of affairs is slightly more pessimistic than men, who, on average, claim significantly higher levels of happiness.
This rather unhappy state of women’s affairs, along with the underlying drivers of happiness and unhappiness, have emerged from Bateleur’s latest Vantage Point survey conducted in July 2022.
Her fears and fantasies lie at the heart of a woman’s state of happiness.
As a starting point, and rather obviously, money plays a key role here. Women who are troubled by debt or financial instability feel tied and beholden to their employers and are likely to be generally unhappy. Unhappy women tend to fantasise about easy-win solutions to money problems; dreaming of winning the lottery, earning passive incomes, and enjoying the luxuries that come with wealth, including multiple homes and dream cars. Additionally, unhappy women fantasise about favourable work-life balance, getting into shape and getting more sleep – material well-being, without the effort.
Happy women are less troubled by financial matters and are more concerned with the challenges of staying on top of work deadlines and dealing with the rising costs of living. Happy women generally don’t fantasise about getting rich quickly or easily and seem to realise that inspired hard work is required to achieve financial freedom. Women’s happiness appears to be strongly associated with a ‘can do’ rather than ‘I wish’ attitude towards money matters.
It is an old and worn adage that self-image and looks govern happiness or unhappiness for many women. This appears to be untrue in respect of happiness, but definitely true as a driver of unhappiness. Fears of gaining too much weight, dieting, physical appearance and being attractive to one’s partner or potential partner are more prevalent amongst women who report being unhappy.
Fears relating to parenting are potentially damaging to some women’s happiness, too. Clearly, the conflicting goals of achieving financial freedom and being a good parent often grind together in some women’s hearts, resulting in unhappiness. Being a good parent, a valued spouse, and making herself a priority is a tough circle of desire for many women who generally find themselves in a state of unhappiness. All three of these objectives compete for time and effort. Unhappy women are inclined to worry about living a dull and mundane life, being a bad parent and having a poor marriage or relationship.
Conversely, happy women find their fears in matters outside of their personal sphere of influence. Global warming, corruption, politics, crime and violence, load shedding, the threat of war and technology-related impingements on privacy are typical fears held by women who are mostly happy.
But, most interestingly, happy women are more inclined to want to give to others. Spending time with loved ones, giving back to communities, being a mentor and inspiration to others, living life with no regrets and leaving a legacy are important dreams for happy women. Healthy eating, learning new skills, travelling the world and the dream of humans being kinder to one another are all characteristics shared by women who are happy.
Yes, it seems true that concerns which are self-orientated lead to unhappiness, whilst those that are selfless do the opposite.
Of course, it’s hard to discuss happiness without falling into a discussion on social media. And indeed, Bateleur’s latest Vantage Point survey reveals a clear link between social media and women’s happiness.
Women who find themselves attracted to social media content posted by so-called influencers on how to improve themselves are likely to fall on the unhappy side of the equation. Consider avoiding content about conspiracy theories, trite quotes about life, contests and competitions, gossip, entertainment news and celebrities if you wish to avoid unhappiness.
Unhappiness appears to be associated with largely fantastical content.
So too is being drawn into the plethora of content on mental health and wellness issues, which are obvious links to unhappiness in women.
Interestingly, and somewhat surprising at first, is the relationship uncovered between engaging with content about pop music and unhappiness. A quick reflection on the nature of the lyrics of many, if not most current pop songs quells this surprise convincingly.
Happy women find themselves attracted to different kinds of content on social media. With the desire for keenly honed situation awareness, happy women keep up-to-date with local, global, political and business news. Further, happy women are most likely to be engaging with content to do with personal relationships, especially those with family and friends. In essence, happiness is associated with browsing social media content that has to do with realism.
In conclusion, chasing one’s tail in pursuit of maximising self-fulfilment with minimum effort will ultimately result in unhappiness. Taking a realistic stance on one’s situation and addressing life from a platform of empathy for the greater good is a great strategy for happiness.
Happy Women’s Day!