Women and Happiness: Why is it on the decline?

I am hard at work on my next book for you. You know my mission is inspiring you to live a more fulfilling life, and giving you tools and coaching to do just that (check out my new Momentum Coaching Club for my latest tool!). In the process, I often find that my own life is a living laboratory. Just yesterday, I realized that my attempts to write this book and simultaneously run the business are leaving me scattered and less productive than I need to be. Have you ever been there? It’s not the first time I’ve seen a deadline coming and felt like I couldn’t quite get the task at hand under control. While talking about that very thing on the phone with my mom yesterday, she laughed as I proclaimed, “I’m too old to be stressed out about work!”

In other words, I’ve learned my lessons before. I need some quiet focused time, and I can get the job done – joyfully. But if I don’t take control and eliminate the distractions and FOCUS, I will end up stressed and trying to catch up on a missed deadline when I’m supposed to be moving on to other projects. So, I carved out time for a writing retreat. I’m excited. I’m going into hiding and immersing myself in the joy of writing and research and aha moments. I had to move some things around. I’ll have to be disciplined. And when I’m done, I’ll feel satisfied, not stressed or anxious.

That thought, “feeling satisfied, not stressed,” is what many women are seeking. There is a low-level anxiety for many women, spurred on by the feeling that they are somehow not where they are supposed to be in life. I’m curious though, why do you think women are less happy today that in 1970?, according to research. Men, on the other hand, are seeing their happiness levels rise. I mean, we have more opportunites, higher incomes, less manual housework, and more education. And certainly, our mothers told us after the women’s movement that we could “have it all” – something they couldn’t necessarily do. As I talked to women across this country, the two collective words that come up over and over are “expectations” and “guilt” – the expectation that you should “have it all” and the guilt that you are somehow not doing enough. There’s the 40-something mom raising five kids and married nearly 20 years who said she “felt behind” professionally. And there’s the 35-year old single advertising agency director who says she feels judged for not being married or having kids. “Nobody judges men for being single, but as a woman, I feel like there’s this looming expectation and this assumption that I don’t want a family. It’s like no matter what I accomplish, it’s not enough.”

How about you? What are the factors – cultural or personal – that you think are causing women’s happiness to decline, especially in late 30s and early 40s? What expectations cause you stress? What do you feel guilty about as you attempt to “have it all”? I’d love to hear your insights and thoughts as I work on my book!

Comments

  1. I truly believe that it started after the “Feminist Movement”. Women wanted equality and rights and what they ended up getting was dual roles. So yes I do agree women should have the same rights as men but as we recieved these rights and went to the work force we continued to have the primary role as care give to the home and children. So this in fact eased the men’s role as sole provider yet they didnt take over any of the roles women had. So it has become harder for women and hence they are unfullfilled because they are split and overworked and at times sacrifice many of their God given roles because society and the thought they there should be two incomes and living above the means and men are now accustomed to this. And I believe it brought about an independant spirit of rebellion in women and caused many undeveloped men..

    Just my 2 cents..

    • I actually agree with Jennifer on this one! There is nothing wrong with being “independent” but in our fight for equality we got more than what we bargained for. I think women confused equally of work with equality role. We wanted the control and now that control has made us unhappy as a gender. Do I want to be treated equally? Yes. Do I want my opinion to matter? Yes. Do I want to alienate myself from men? No. I want to be married and have a family of my own, one day and I want to have these things with a man who doesn’t have a problem with being the man of the house and being able to take the lead in certain aspects of our relationship. My role as wife and mother is just as important as his role as husband and provider.

      • Ms. angela says:

        Ashley, I love the last sentence of your blog about the equal importance of roles. RESPECT is a main ingredience in any happy, healthy relationship.

    • valorieburton says:

      Jennifer, your two cents is worth a WHOLE lot! lol. You make some really great points, many of which are exactly what I’ve been thinking, too.

    • Hi Valerie-
      I love your daily emails. Thanks for sharing with the ladies who are inspired by your success. I am looking forward to taking more of your programs. I personally believe that happiness is tied to fulfullling God’s purpose for your life. It’s easy to get caught up in the purpose and not the purpose maker. As you said, women have more of everything but time with God. He invigorates and inspires us. Wen we make “quiet time” we give Him room to give us the wisdom and knowledge to bring our dreams to pass. Make Him the priority and keep Him #1 and “all these things will be “added” unto you.

  2. Cleother Griffin says:

    Valorie, a touching story. What does having it all mean to you? There should be a ceiling to having it all. You can get caught up in the mindset that no matter how much you accomplish, it is not enough. One key to having it all should be: I am blessed, happy, and grateful for my level of success. When I wake up in the mornings, I can say, I don’t having to get anything more.

  3. It’s because women are not following their true passions and give up on their true hopes and dreams for a boyfriend/husband. Also, low self esteem is the #1 reason women aren’t happy and so many of us are comparing ourselves with women who constantly use their looks and bodies to gain wealth vs. educated, hard working women (only 47% of women think they’re truly beautiful).

    • valorieburton says:

      Faye, good point about the making the comparisons. And it seems reality television is constantly providing us with unrealistic/misleading images of women. Even if you don’t watch the shows, the media bombards you with updates! There’s a constant stream of, “Look what so-and-so has.”

  4. You’ve listed so many of the reasons I’ve heard from other women too– especially moms. Guilt for wanting to pursue a career and be an at-home mom and I’ve heard from other women that they feel pressure. It’s probably a self-inflicted pressure too. In other words, they can let some things go and be happier, but because they want it all and simultaneously, they become unhappy that it’s not working.

    (Sitting on your leather couch now) I personally have battled with unhappiness and yet I knew I had so much to be thankful for; beautiful children, a loving husband and a great new career. But somehow all of that wasn’t giving me fulfillment. I later learned that I needed to seek true joy in my life, because happiness always seems so circumstantial.. and God knows our emotions and situations change like the wind.

    I’m excited to read your upcoming soon and will pray as you move forward toward its completion!!!

    Hugs,
    Kennisha

  5. The danger of any movement is the inability to recognize when the movement is over. As the 70s marked a time of women rising up and taking their place, we must remember how to get out of fight mode. Humans are not built to fight day in, day out. It will lead to depression. The depression happens when a person spends too much time absorbed and focused on self. Feelings of guilt, unhappiness and depression will always accompany too much self-focus. Men naturally have a desire to play and will remove themselves from their struggle at some point to play. Women will dig in both heels and not realize 10/20 years have passed since the last time they really stepped back from the task or struggle. We see President Obama stepping away during tough negotiations to vacation. Dr. King in 60s would pull away and shoot a game of pool. However we watched Hilary Clinton work until she was hospitalized and then all the stories about her harsh schedule of responsibilities. LADIES, remember to play no matter what your task at hand is. Resist the mind that tells you that it’s irresponsible to take a break. Regrouping, refreshing is as vital to your happiness and success as anything else that you do.

    • valorieburton says:

      Very interesting point there, Reg … you are right, we are not built to fight day in and day out, and PLAY is so important to happiness! Taking time to play actually makes you more productive when it’s time to work!

  6. This is not scientific but I think women’s unhapiness is a combination of some of the reasons others have already posted, including and adding, changing gender roles in society, taking on too many responsibilities, lack of self-exploration and development, trying to fit a square peg into a round hold (living your life from a model that’s not the right one for you). Lots of success with your new book.

  7. What is happiness? What is contentment? I asked my mother how she seemed to be ‘perfectly happy & content’ when we were growing up on the side of lower middle class and she said, ‘looking back-I guess I was oblivious to all the problems, because I focused on my own world and leaned on God through the tough times.’
    I’ve never had contentment in my life –and I’m 52. It’s my daily prayer. However, I have been looking at happiness since reading your book (Habits of successful women) and stopping the immediate response I used to have in ‘trying to change the past,’ ‘working to fix the future,’ and now purposefully ‘looking at my present’ and thanking God for each moment.
    There are so many factors that go into this (from childhood +) but I think we are an unhappy nation now– wanting & striving for more than what we need! (I also believe that while the economy has ‘knocked so many down’ we are better because we are back on a level playing field and noticing that ‘things’ do not make up our happiness!)

    • valorieburton says:

      Being oblivious can certainly make you less stressed, lol! Rebekah, please know I just said a prayer for you that you uncover the contentment, peace and joy that God has for you.

  8. Valerie Smith says:

    I found that the pressures of motherhood, career, relationships, being a wife hits us hard during this time. Now that I’m 50+, it’s a lot easier! Whew!

  9. My low level of anxiety stems from there being so much information available on how to be successful that I feel I should be further along. I think, if others can do it why can’t I get it together? Self discipline and commitment. It’s a journey and everyday I’m better…and further.

    I don’t think we find any joy in the journey or understand that self realization is a part of that journey. There’s all the external stuff, kids (too early, too late, none), husband/no husband and then there’s the internal feelings judging everything. Men seem to expect that there will be a lot to learn through and keep going whereas we stew a little longer than we probably should. Congrats on recognizing the overwhelm and carving out the time, Valorie! Another timely post.

    • valorieburton says:

      That feeling of, “Everybody else has it together, why don’t I?”is so common, I think. The truth is just because it LOOKS like others have it together doesn’t mean they aren’t actually having the very same challenges and thoughts you are! Thanks for sharing your experience, Sabrina.

    • Ms. angela says:

      sabrina I get what you’re saying. But I can tell you that most times when we see someone else’s (perfect life) we only see the -snapshot photo-. we may never know what trials, tribulations, etc. they had to endure to get that picture, or for that matter what happens after the snapshot. People use to think I had the perfect life, ( if they only knew).

  10. Wow! What a wonderful discussion of the real problems women are facing. From my travels to Europe this summer, I saw that others do not live like we do here. One of the reasons they refer to us as “those Americans” is because we are always in a hurry. We want “it” now! Our culture is beckoning us to do more, do it better, and do it at all costs. European women are beautiful, but I didn’t see as much visible pressure to be perfect. The European pace is very different at work. They take off for lunch and work fewer hours each day. I want to take some of the things I learned and redesign my own life experience to include less stress and a slower pace. With my American mentality, this will be a challenge.

    • valorieburton says:

      Hmm. Maybe I need to do some research in Europe for this book, Sandi. :) This is certainly true. Most other cultures are not as hurried as ours. Europeans average six weeks of vacation per year. Americans? 13 days. That speaks volumes. Have fun redesigning your lifestyle … sounds like a very wise idea!

  11. This topic is so extremely dear to my heart!!! (Please forgive any typos). I am 35, a wife, mother of 2 boys (1 & 3), and a school counselor. For the past few years (since I became a mom), I have continued to feel overwhelmed & stressed. I realized a few months ago that this comes because I’m not doing what my heart desires. In my heart I believe I need to stop working full time, focus on my life coaching, and be able to have a flexible schedule for my family. Too often I come home from my “job” and I’m to tired to enjoy the demands of my family. I spend my day at work looking after someone else’s children, and I’m too tired to enjoy mine. I remember in the 80′s my grandmother was admitted into the hospital after having a nervous breakdown. My grandmother was an educator as well, and came home everyday to look after her family, cooking & cleaning daily. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m headed in that same direction. I’m a Christian & lately I’ve been thinking about how God created me to be a “help-mate”. I’m all for equality, but am I less of a human if I choose not to work outside of my home? I’m wanting to get back to my “God-given” role and be a better wife & mom. Afterall, these were the things that I prayed for (great husband & children). I’m faced with the truth that we cannot afford for me not to bring in my current salary. Both me & my husband work in education & we are barely making ends meet. With this knowledge it would be foolish to not return next year. But this means I continue to sacrifice my family, my peace & happiness & I continue to feel like I’m on the verge of breaking down. I’m not feeling like we were fed a lie… “Woman can’t have it all without the etxra does of stress, resentment, & self-neglect). At 35 I want to be there whenever my children need me (not the child care provider), I want to have a clean house & home cooked meals, I want to be able to exercise daily, I want to be refreshed for my husband, & I want to have time to relax with my friends & family without feeling like I’m getting behind on work, I want to pursue my dream of becoming a Life Coach & work part-time w/ teenaged girls. That’s my new idea of “having it all”.

    • valorieburton says:

      Wow, Brandy, what a clear vision you just painted of what you want. Have you considered creating a vision board that represents that vision? You don’t have to know yet how it is all going to come together, just believe that it can! One of my favorite scriptures: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Praying with you and your husband that your vision will somehow and soon become your reality. Thank you for sharing your very real insights and feelings.

    • Brandy,

      I can truly relate to how you feel. I have been there and I am still a work in progress. As Valorie says you must trust in the Lord. As I began to seek God for my peace and to fill the desires of my heart things begin to make a shift. He began to revel to me ways to increase my level of peace in my life changes that could be made so that I can be that wife, mother, and employee that He needs me to be. Especially, as I began to give my worries to Him and seek His guidance for every area of my life, including the small things. Like I said before I am still a work and progress, but I can feel that the stress and pressure of things is not what it use to be ( with less anxiety). I just wanted to keep you encouraged, because that time is comming when God will give you the desires of your heart.

      • Ms. angela says:

        Wonderful encouragment, and I totally agree. There was a period of about four months God woke me from a sound sleep every morning at 4:00a.m. to speak to my spirit because I was so busy everyday it was the only time I would listen. (It worked). I have such a greater peace when He & I talk every morning about how my day will go. ( but it’s at a more reasonable time now, 6:30 a.m.) lol. Make time for Him, don’t force Him to take it.

    • Okay Brandy, I had to read your name again to make sure someone didn’t get into my brain without me knowing and put my exact thoughts on this forum. LOL. I totally feel you. I was just sitting here praying and writing and asking God for clarity, and then I opened Val’s weekly email and ventured over to the blog. God always directs our paths when we ask him. Just hearing from all the other women, especially those who sound like a clone of me has just released some of the pressure I was feeling moments ago.
      The funny thing is I was just telling my husband the other day to take a one-day challenge and do what I do everyday. He declined (of course), but in telling him what the challenge would entail, I was able to visually see why I feel so unhappy. I am doing way too much right now. My prayer this morning was God, what is it that you want me to be focused on right now. There is so much I want to do, but thinking about all those things overwhelms me. Just reading others post on this forum and Val’s message above, has already given me some great insight. Thank you all for allowing God to use you by sharing your thoughts.

  12. Teresa Garcia says:

    I believe one factor that is causing women’s unhappiness is that we compare ourselves to one another. I share the dangers of comparing ourselves to one another in a women’s Bible study I teach called “No Fear Here”. It is loosely based on Beth Moore’s book “So Long Insecurity”. In my experience, comparing ourselves to one another does two things 1)makes us feel inferior or 2)makes us feel superior, depending on who were are comparing ourselves to. I always share II Corinthians 10:12 and Jeremiah 29:11 when discussing this topic. If no one knows the plans God has for us (including us!) how can we judge where were in comparison to His plans. That has been so liberating for me!

  13. When I read the first post (Jennifer’s) I said to myself , “oh my gosh, someone that feels the same way as I do”. I 100% agree with her. Generally speaking in society as a whole, we have put it in our minds we can “have it all”, not sure if this is really possible, but we like to think we can, we strive for this. In the mix of “having it all” woman’s roles as a whole have not changed much, so in addition to our maternal, and relational roles we have taken on more responsibility, it is work, raising children, managing a household (because we are working too), menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, keeping house clean, maintaining and nurturing a small business, etc. these are and have been my responsibilities throughout my 52 years and some days, I don’t know whether I am coming or going I find if you have at least one good support network, coping is a lot easier, plus we must as women, take really good care of ourselves. If not, we get depressed, being overwhelmed with responsibility with no break can make us tired and downright depressed. For me, learning to accept that that is OK to take care of me has helped, I know it sounds so simple but I find if you love yourself first, it becomes easier. This indeed is work in progress for women, we are the steel magnolias.

  14. I know in my personal life I struggle with many things, initially the battle to silence the negative voices of my past (namely my mother’s voice) telling me that I’d never be anything. She died with me never hearing she was proud of me, so it’s difficult for me to be proud of myself. With my father being gone physically most of my life(due to incarceration) I have vague memories of us being a family, so the expectation of every being married is far-fetched to me. I’m a single mother of two beautiful teenagers & though I sometimes feel I’m failing them by not being able to keep their fathers in their lives, I’m blessed by the individuals they’re becoming and this encourages me to know that I’ve done something right as we defy the statistics placed on single-parent households & deplorable education goals. I feel guilty for not grabbing hold of the reigns and following some of my dreams more diligently because I’ve allowed fear to control too much of my life, I feel under-educated at times as I encourage and look forward to my son starting college this coming fall. I’m fighting to gain the strength to complete my higher education, to be better prepared to fulfill my dreams/goals so that I can actively work to silence or negate those negative voices. I know there are many areas I need to work on in my life, and once I’m able to maintain a level of consistency and actively show myself & my children that the “we can have it all” theory can happen, no matter how overwhelming it may seem. I may have gone off topic, but ultimately I know I’m responsible for my happiness and therefore am responsible for the level of unhappiness I suffer. Growing in my spirituality and focusing on God is the only thing that inspires me to believe that I will ever achieve a level of balance and maintain any true happiness in my life.

    • Angela Foster says:

      Unique, I understand what you are saying. I have so been there. May I encourage you to keep your eyes on the face of God. Realize you may see him in many places and through many people. You will know because of the light, joy and happiness you feel while in that place. Be sure to take a deep breath of Joy everyday, actually every breath you take, let it be of Joy and Peace. And smile often! You are here for a reason. Fight for your right to be happy. I know the the hardest fight is usually with yourself (harder to fight yourself than others :-) ) So put on some happy music… I love Mandisa…. and get your happy dance on girl! Blessings to you!

  15. I have learned that true happiness comes from inside and is defined by you and your belief system.
    When we lisen to the world and its definition of happiness and success we fall short. Our perspectives should be eternal and not of this temporal world. I define happiness and success on my own terms to the standard of my God.

  16. Lindy Allen says:

    Dear Ladies,
    I remember the “Women’s Lib” days (I am 61) clearly. Yes we were told we can “have it all”, and I do believe we can have it all – BUT NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME! I think we have to choose our priorities for each stage of life very deliberately, focus on them, and be grateful that we live today with so many opportunities. Also, to be grateful for the simple things in life, instead of WANTING IT ALL – having grown up “poor”, I really relish the joy of just simple, often free, things and experiences.
    I love living today!

  17. I’m grateful for the sacrifices that were made so I could live a better life. My mom made sure I went to school and instilled in me a love for education and reading. I’m happy she wanted to be a successful woman — knowing that she didn’t have the opportuntiies I did. However, I did not have children or get married, but I try to share what I have with the children I meet and let them know you are living in a glorious time and should cherish these moments. My wake up call has been my exit from Corporate America. I found my true happiness serving the people who I may have previously looked down upon from my “Ivory Tower”. So my true happiness has come from getting to know the “Real Me” and connecting with “Spirit”. Truely, “you find your life when you lose your life” to the things that are not important, the material, the competition of trying to out do others, outdress, out impress or Out Lexus or Mercedes Benz them. True Happiness comes from connecting to your True Spirit Within, and that’s when “You Have It All”.

  18. I don’t really feel guilty. I try to prioritize when trying to “have it all”. I keep a balance. This is really negative but when people start offering their unsolicited comments about my marital status & lack of children (I’m 31), in my mind I giggle at their flaws. Some how, that makes me not care about their ramblings! We all have something to be proud of and areas we would like to be different. I have found that my genuine friends don’t harp on the negative but celebrate what is positive. I choose to surround myself with those kind of people. I’m always finding ways to enhance my happiness. In 2013, People that I can’t avoid, I’ve started to plan my response to them as you suggested previously. Wonderful advice! One thing I will say, I think we stay in relationships out of fear that we won’t find another mate when we get to a certain age and that leads to temporary fulfillment but ultimately an unhappy marriage if you ever make it to the alter.

  19. Angela Foster says:

    Valorie I am reading your book “Successful Women Think Differently” and in it you talk about being grateful for our blessings while believing more is possilbe. I love this and feel like this missing this simple gesture of recognizing our blessings may cause us not to be or feel “happy”. I noticed that the Amplified Version of the Bible translates the word blessed in many places as, “happy, favored, prosperous” and even “to be envied”. So I agree with you, for it has been my experience (one I hope to write about one day) that counting, recognizing, acknowledging, proclaiming and embracing our blessings makes one happy. It really makes all the diffence in the world. When the Bible says “count it all joy” and “think on these things…whatever is true, noble, just pure, lovely, things which are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is ANYTHING praise worthy…think on these!!! Ah, a breath of fresh air! I love this because even though these are words from the Bible, my thoughts don’t have to be deep and spiritual.. sometimes my “happy place” is a memory of a spot I often enjoyed in nature, the sound of the ocean, pictures of my children, that last funny conversation with my best friend. So to me happiness has declined because we tend to forget that we truly are blessed in some way every day. Blessings to you. Hope to see you in March!

  20. I feel that the images portrayed on television create unrealistic expectations for women in general . We somehow believe that we can master every area of our lives. This is not what God expects of us. If we listen to Him, we will find that inner joy and peace that we desire. As a wife and mother of a 3 year old, I often struggle with family and career goals. After much prayer and meditation, God has told me to focus on my family. They are truly important to my purpose in Christ.

  21. Hello Valorie:
    Thank you for bringing topic to the forefront. I am currently seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in this area. As a mother, wife, professional and aspiring writer, speaker and novice Life Coach and business owner, I have grappled with the idea of having the best of both worlds (being a good mother and good wife, while pursuing my dream, thus providing for my family. My take happiness may be on the decline, due to a lot of women wanting to have the best of both worlds (pursuing their dreams, and holding their family together) Seeking God’s wisdom and guidance diligently and then acting on it enables us to His will without guilt and a decline in happiness.

    Can’t wait to read the book! Valorie.

  22. I must admit I’m not really happy now because I feel I have not done enough. My job is fallen apart, i’m in debt, I’m not married, still struggling to further my education. I ‘m still struggling to overcome abuses in the past by my mum and brother and learning to love them dearly even though I have forgiven them. I have low self esteem and working on it. I can’t seem to celebrate even when I achieve a dream. All that comforts me is the hope I have in God. I always ask for the strength to overcome these challenges and I know one day the storm will be still.

  23. What is causing happiness to decline in women is the lies media, our culture and the world offers us is NOT realistic. We have lost our focus and bought into the our worldly culture. We do not look to The One who refreshes us, provides us balance and provides true happiness. When I become stressed and my joy is depleated, it is all when I am trying to keep with the worlds view and not my Lord’s view. My greatest example is the life of Jesus and the trustworthy truths in the Bible. He teaches me how to balance and remain joyful. Keeping my eyes on Him is key. I am Christ follower, wife, minister’s wife, mom, corporate employee, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, etc. – my life is anything but cushy.

  24. Having it all seems like have nothing but a bad headache sometimes. LOL. As I approach empty nesthood and reflect on my experience as a working mom and for me the key is having a good plan. I started off working as a single woman, then a married woman. When my first child was born my father asked me was I going to quit my job and stay home. My response was why? Even though I feel like I balanced my time well 20 years later I feel that I failed my children in some ways. I didn’t give my children the best of me, the best me was at work or at church. I thought showing my children a good work ethic was so important (along with other life lessons) and they have learned well but it left me tired. Now since they will be leaving home soon, I can be “happy” that I know I raised my children well to be productive members of society. I am looking forward to spending more time with myself (and my husband too) in the years to come.

  25. Val, I think for me for the decline is that women set these goals in life and these goals something like this…Goal 1: I’m going to go to college and get a degree; Goal 2: I’m going to get a great job; Goal 3: I’m going to get married and have a family, but then life and changes in life begins. Some are positive and negative changes. I personally got caught up in okay I need to get an advance degree to be more competitive in the career field. Then you and that college sweetheart you planned to married you grow apart. Now almost 19 years later, I’m still not married and no kids, and a career setback because of the economy. I am feel as though I should have it all and I don’t feel a shame because I am a good person that tries really hard. However, I know through my my faith I too will get the promises and blessings that God has promised me. Val, thank you for allowing us to share. Keep up the good work! God Bless!

  26. What exactly does having it all really mean? I feel that often we make the mistake of letting society define what it means to have it all. Instead of defining what it means to us as individuals to actually have it all. I may feel that having the powerful career, big house, kids, and husband shows that I have it all. Where as the next woman may feel that being a stay at home mom devoting all her time to her family is the way she sees having it all. I beleive that the Women’s movement had its place and I am grateful for that. Now we need the movement that we are encourageing women to be who God created them to be without making the feel that they are any less than the next woman and accpet that they choose the path of life God need them to follow. We have so many women that suffer from the comdemnation of others leading them to have nervous breaks downs and other medical issues. Already as society we define that living the good life is having all of these unecessary material possessions leading to people living way beyond their means. As a mother, wife, proffesional or whoever you may be you must seek God and become the person that he needs you to be not society. (Please forgive any typos)

  27. Rose Nairn says:

    Valerie,

    I think women have busied themselves too much. Instead of taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life. I am 49 and1/2, married for 20 years, childless (not by choice ) but I am just beginning to enjoy my life . I struggled for years with the pressure of what society and my friends expected of me. However when I discovered who I really was and that I did not have to live up to anyone expectations of me I felt enpowered and happy. Now I live my life on my terms. This year I will take my dream vacation to Italy from where I live in the Bahamas with or without my husband. Don’t get me wrong I would love him to come also it would make it really special but at the same time this is MY dream and I will not be offended if he didn’t. I love to cook and I discoved this is really my passion and even though most of my “professional friends” think I must be out of my mind to want a vacation where you learn to cook instead of going to Vegas or some fancy European vacation. I am a Banker but cooking is what I love and I hope sometime in the not to distant future to make it my job.

  28. At times, women are our own worse enemy through the daunting spirit of “condemnation” which stema from ingrained thoughts from grandparents, aunts and others who strongly believe in a “woman’s role” is primarily wife, mother, and then “other.” We must recognize that spirit and not allow ourselves to be “drained” by it.

  29. Dearest Valorie and all of the ladies who are reading and writing here:
    Thank you so much for your words of insight, wisdom, love and compassion. I hope that every young girl in our world grows to be as kind and caring toward each other as these ladies are on this blog. And thank you for the opportunity to share my own thoughts here.
    I believe that a great deal of what women perceive as their struggle to experience happiness comes down to two things, spoken of by many here already. The first is our belief that we are not good enough just as we are. We are bombarded by negative messages about ourselves at every turn, mostly in the name of our economy’s efforts to sell more products and services…..We are absolutely beautiful in every way, yet our economy needs for us to think that we are not, so that we will spend more money trying to achieve that beauty. In my therapy practice, not a day goes by that I don’t see a woman look at me cross-eyed when I tell her that she is beatiful, inside and out, and she sees that I really mean that as I am saying it to her. We just don’t get that message often enough in our society, and it sometimes turns women into competitive, mean people, who cut others down, even if just in their own minds, as a way to try to feel better about themselves. When we are unkind, even in just our private thoughts, we then feel even more disappointed with ourselves. Yet, when we compliment another’s beauty, we feel better about ourselves, too. We need to celebrate our beauty with each other, as a way to tell the world that imperfection is indeed perfection.
    A second concept that I believe prevents many women from feeling very happy, for very long, is the belief that we should be happy ALL of the time. In a world that is full of natural light and dark, up and down, young and old, we often just want the ‘unhappy’ to go away. So when we naturally feel some of the unhappiness of strife, grief, disappointment, or regret, we are too quick to try to make it go away. Instead, when we embrace that those unhappy times must be present so that we may truly appreciate and rejoice in the happy times, we then see that things in our lives have a natural rhythm and we can feel happy about the ebb and flow, knowing that all things will come again, even as they are subsiding.
    Again, thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts, and for the sharing and encouraging that you are all doing here. Today is the first time I have looked at Valorie’s blog, but I will be a regular visitor from now on.

  30. I think that women, especially women of color, are only now starting to be comfortable with the phrase, “I wish I were happier.” For my mother, grandmother, and older ancestors, there was no such thing as happiness for women. We worked, took care of our families, took care of our significant others, and went to sleep at night. The pattern repeated itself day after day. Not much time to take care of ourselves. Women of color now have the luxury of wanting our lives to be different–and better.

  31. Women arent celebrated like they should be in our society…I think that’s the problem, aside from Mother’s Day there’s nothing to really compliment or recognize women. Men are always celebrated, everything that they do it seems to be a parade for it. I’m sure many would have a valid argument to say that’s not true, but generally speaking women dont get the credit they deserve. They dont even pat themselves on the back which I just posted something on my facebook page not too long ago telling my friends to celebrate themselves. That’s the only person who’s going to assure that it gets done-you. Throw you’re own celebration instead of a pity party. I’m learning to give myself a break, that’s one thing I didnt see much from my parents…they worked tirelessly and didnt do much for themselves. Simple things count, walking, sitting in the park…our society now has placed a value on happiness, they show that having alot of money (which it seems to take now to have fun) means happiness. But we know rich doesnt mean happy alot of rich people historically have found to be very unhappy. Happiness to me means self-appreciation, and I intend to make sure I do alot of that through out the rest of my life. I rushed through my teens and 20s, never once stopping to say yea girl, you’re doing alright for yourself, keep up the good work, relax, take a walk enjoy this moment. Stopping and smelling the roses shouldnt just be a metaphor.

  32. Diane Battle says:

    I do believe that anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, loneliness, being over worked and under payed, poor living arrangements, poor eating habits, (mainly because of unemployment or under employment), fatherless children, and for some, elderly/ailing parents are some of the the real reasons that the happiness of women is on the decline. Women, (especially during these dark and dismal times) are under much more pressure than we once were.

  33. Valorie, I think the biggest issue defeating our happiness is the word “should”. We should get a good education; we should have a successful career; we should get married and maintain a happy home; we should have children; we should never forget what we should do. That word has been pursuing me and I have let it. The term “should” has stopped me from living in the moment so many times, I have “should” all over my life! I am sure many women live there lives this way……we follow a template(usually some else’s) and discover too late that the template was not meant for us. Happiness escapes so many of us because, many of us never stop to consider what will truly make us happy.

  34. Hi Valerie….
    As I read this article there were so many emotion flowing around. I thought about the word “Happiness” I believe this is every woman dream to be happy. I must say I have been married for twenty two years and on my 42nd birthday I left my husband. We have been married for 22 years and we have two boys. This was a major change for all of us.. The last four years of our marriage I was totally unhappy…well it was so many reason I fell out of love with my husband. I cant go into it on the internet…..but my husband and I have been separated for eight months. My question to myself and as I pray daily to God can I fall in love with him again. Or do I just go back to him to satisfy him and the boys and family member. I want to take my time and make sure but it’s like my husband wants me home now. I married him when I was nineteen and now here I am in a different state of mind. When I left it was like I could breath again ……..I felt weird but I knew in my heart I had not been happy in years. I continue to pray and ask God for guidance in this situation. Happiness is what we all want and need! However, I must sure this I married my husband while I was in college and I dropped out and I returned four years ago I will graduated May . That is something I have to be HAPPY about.

  35. Wow, there are so many good responses out there. It made me stop and think about exactly what I’ve been going through. I’ve felt so unfulfilled for the last 2-3 years. My husband was busy with work and yes he would come home and share his time with me and talk. It was nice, don’t get me wrong. As he would say, I get more than most women whose husbands come home and sit in front of the TV. Sorry, buddy, not good enough. He kept saying I was so patient with him, and I was. But patience has its limits and there are times when we as women, need what we need. Unfortunately, this all blew up into an emotional affair with a good friend of ours. It went on for 2 years, not even realizing it. In the aftermath, I realize I was unfulfilled, and yes I did need my husband’s time, but more importantly, I let myself down. I didn’t pursue things that would make me happy. I settled into married life, but I needed more and I was capable of getting it. Perhaps I lacked the self-esteem but I had the full support of my husband to do whatever I wanted to do. So, really I believe, the pressures are strong, we feel guilt, and all of the other things the above ladies were saying, but I believe we have the power to unleash our creative, business, or fun side if we so desire. The cost if we don’t, can be high. My marriage is fine, better in fact, but it would have been better to pursue even simple things that would have made ME happy. We need to step out of our comfort zone and create the life we deserve. It cannot be all work and no play. Balance is key in anything. We don’t want to think more of ourselves, but we shouldn’t think less of ourselves either.

  36. I’m 27, no kids (gladly), not married (tragedy), I work fulltime (busy), just started grad school (more busy) and go to church full time (even busier), needless to say I’m busy. I can’t say that I’m unhappy but I’m also not as happy as I could be, to me I balance all this well enough to be “somewhat” productive but where I fail is actually being myself or time for myself. I currently live with my family and they are pretty dependent on me right now, so I refuse to just leave them high and dry, even though I want my own place. I think mentally the pressure of wanting to someday get married and have my own space eludes me and I’m looking for an escape. Though if I were to get married, I definitely would love and cherish my husband but a part of me feels like they would just be a scapegoat to me branching out again on my own. I guess I feel the best way to leave my family is to have a great excuse to do so, too much people pleasing and not enough me pleasing (I want everyone to be ok and not come asking for help later). My ex’s tell me I stretch myself too thin (I say I’m counting my blessing, God gave to me what I need and more so I can give to others, my needs are met) though me time is oh so necessary and I just want to finish everything, so that I can have peace. This is an excuse to though because honestly they are my own goals and I can modify them anytime I want. Since I’m in a way I’m doing me but at the same… Decline for me would be pressure to meet goals, marriage, balancing stressor, family, and finding time for me…
    Main thing would be finding time for yourself because everything can be modified to fit if you want it to… the question do you want it to?

  37. I’ve gotta admit, I’m both saddened and hopeful. Saddened because so many women are experiencing deep levels of unhappiness. Hopeful and inspired, because I can sense the desire and determination to reach a place of peace from each of you. I couldn’t believe Jennifer’s Jan 30 post, because her thoughts are exactly what I shared with my oldest son earlier today regarding what I call the Feminist Backlash. He’s a freshman at Tuskegee U. and as a group project is studying the feminist movement. We got it all and then some … and it’s tough, actually impossible to keep up–which is exactly why we ladies must deliberately STOP! Also, just today, after experiencing chronic fatigue and spending the night in the ER because of pain in my left arm, I scheduled a week out of the office in April, when my younger children are out for Spring Break, and another 2 (consecutive) weeks (yes, I said 2 back to back) in June. This brought me immediate happiness. Of course, the first time I scheduled off two consecutive weeks, it felt weird. But, why? With our increased responsibilities as moms, employees, daughters, neighbors, etc., we must learn to break from the dizzying pace. Oh, and BTW, regarding the arm pain that sent me to the ER, turns out that my EKG, chest xray, blood pressure readings and blood work were all excellent. This led the doctor to believe the pain is possibly due to a pinched nerve, bone spur, or — yikes, STRESS! Take care of yourselves ladies. Thanks for this post, Valorie. Can’t wait to read the new book.

  38. Erica Outland says:

    When I saw this blog post last week, it hit me right in between the eyes because I am at that place. I’m in my mid-twenties and I’m fighting this feeling of discontentment. I’ve gotten my first degree, worked as a teacher, and am now pursuing a J.D., yet despite this I’m feeling unfulfilled, and I’ve wondered why. What so interesting about this is that in the face of realizing my discontentment I end up feeling even worse because I’m now guilty about not being satisfied…It all seems to be a vicious cycle.

    To answer your question though, I think, at least for me, what is causing me to feel discontent is a failure to determine what I need to be fulfilled. Because of the feminist movement and the constant battle of societal gender roles, women today are bombarded with so many images and ideas of what it means to be successful. And some of us make the mistake of latching to the one that seems to render the most approval rather than doing the hard work of charting our own courses. For me, I’ve found that in the midst of doing all these things for all these years, I haven’t figured out who I am. I just know what the world wants me to be. And what the world thinks it needs from me, may not be what I actually have to give to the world.

    I also find that in the midst of all of the running around, people as a whole, not just women, are failing to connect with each other on that level that brings fulfillment. For many of us women, the way we connect was often found in the relationships we had with our families. But now our families are different. There more isolated as a unit and more isolated individually. Thus, that God-given need to provide assistance and guidance is lost.

    Despite thinking about all this, I personally still find it difficult to break free from the world’s expectations because I feel like all I’ve known is what it tells me. When its time for me to face the mirror and decide who I am, I really don’t know how to answer…and that’s ultimately where my discontentment stems from.

    Valorie, keep allowing the Spirit of God to move through you. So many of your topics and posts are right on time and just profoundly divine!

  39. Hi Valorie,
    I heard a lady named Christine Caine from Hillsong Church in Australia say that you can have it all, it’s just a question of timing. Maybe not all at once, unless you have an income that allows you to get the help you need, but it is doable especially if you have a network of friends and family members who can help when needed. I grew up in Congo and I can remember that when one of my aunts had a baby, those of us who were the oldest cousins would go to help for a day or two with household chores. Since there were a lot of us, we had a rotation system that enabled everyone to help without being burned out, and after her maternity leave my aunt went back to work . I think here in the US, people are not necessarily living in the same city to have that kind of support from family members at least.
    As for single women, I must say that I am annoyed whenever a married woman or anyone else makes those kind of remarks, as if single women are not as valuable as people because the husband, the kids and the picket fence haven’t come in the picture yet. I even had people suggesting that I should get “busy” because time is ticking. Never mind that I was raised in a two married parents home, and that I would like to do the same.
    Back to the career-family dilemma, I don’t think that a woman should sacrifice her talents, dreams and aspirations just for family, God a gave purpose for each of us and I think that the best way to fulfill it is to ask Him the best way to go about it. As a previous poster said, the feminist movement was needed, but balance is needed to have a fulfilling life. Besides, I don’t have the source right now at the top of my head, but I remember reading in a study that a man’s input in raising kids is as vital as what a woman does. It takes two to have a child, makes sense to have two to raise him or her.
    Have a great week and thanks for this blog!
    Zola

  40. i don’t know what to tell you, Valorie. My happiness level has been through the roof since I found your blog :)

Speak Your Mind

*