There is a song from the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” called Happiness. Every line in the song attempts to answer the question, “What is Happiness? How does one get it? If you have ever pondered these questions, then this is the post for you.
It is an American ideal to say that hard work pays off–it brings the American dream, but is that what will bring people happiness, achieving their dream? Some people have written me that relationships are a lot of work. Is chasing happiness a lot of work too?
This study is the third in a series. It is a follow-up post to 15 Secrets to Marital Longevity, the first in the series. After I interviewed the fifteen couples and completed the study, many women (sorry men, they did), wrote me divulging their self-exploration as to whether their relationships were worth the effort. The second post in the series was 16 Ways to Know If He (or She) is a Keeper, a follow-up to that study. By asking themselves the “16 questions,” the women writing me could know whether “he is a keeper” or not.
This post seeks to tweak the question, “What brings marital happiness,” to “What brings happiness?”
I interviewed people of different age groups, genders, and marital statuses to see if there was a disparity in their answers.
Me: What is the secret of happiness for you? What would bring you personal joy?
- Married Females in Their 80’s:
Respondent 1: Friendship–My husband is dying; he is terminally ill. I could be friends with people of all ages, like people my children’s age.
Respondent 2: Retirement–I’m content with not getting up early. I am free to go wherever and whenever I want. Also, the knowledge that you don’t have to keep up with the neighbors.
- Married Male in His 80’s:
Respondent 3: Two bathrooms
- Married Male in His 70’s:
Respondent 4: When you are upset with someone, try to focus on the good things about them rather than the thing that you’re upset about.
- Married Female in her 60’s
Respondent 5: Exercise. Practicing mind and body exercises produces joy, and it’s controllable! You have an ability to create happiness in your brain through exercise.
- Married Male in his 60’s
Respondent 6: Ignorance brings bliss. I do not think that everyone in society can achieve real happiness that is comparable. I think happiness is potentially limited. Social issues such as race, gender bias, prejudice, and I believe economic issues influence the concept of happiness.
Respondent 7: Learn what you love to do in life and find someone willing to pay for it.
- Married Females in their 50’s
Respondent 8: Honesty. I need to know the truth. If people were truthful, I’d be happier. That would bring me peace. I feel stress when people lie and cheat.
Respondent 9: Peace of mind. Tech. trouble causes me stress. Since I’m not confident with technology, I get stressed and have low self-esteem.
Respondent 10: Good health
Respondent 11: My children’s happiness would bring me happiness. My son is homeless. I would have peace knowing he’s okay. This is the first time I’ve voiced that to someone.
Respondent 12: A good meal with friends
- Married Male in His 50’s
Respondent 13: A good meal
- Single Female in Her 40’s
Respondent 14: Love
- Married Female in her 30’s
Respondent 15: Not comparing yourself to others
- Single Females in their 20’s
Respondent 16: Making others smile. I dance around like an idiot and do crazy things.
Respondent 17: Don’t stress. When you stress, your happiness level is low.
Respondent 18: Attitude and perspective.
- Single Male in his Teens
Respondent 19: Affection from another
- Single Female in her Teens
Respondent 20: Other people’s joy
When I told Respondent 2 about the study, she made predictions as to how the age groups would answer. She predicted, “In the 30’s I would have said ‘a career that I loved,’ and in the 20’s I would have said ‘being married and having children’.” She was wrong.
My observation is that age does not change our answers. People of all ages said that making others happy would bring them joy (Respondents 11, 16, and 20). Also, “not trying to keep up with the Joneses” was answered by Respondents 2 and 15 in different age groups.
Problems with the Study:
Problems with the Respondents: I felt people didn’t take me seriously (Respondents 7, 12, and 13 ). Also, at times I felt like I was struggling to get an answer from otherwise willing respondents. I felt like they were answering, “I’m happy because I’m content (Respondent 2).” I also felt some struggled to differentiate happiness from marital happiness (Respondents 3 and 4), which was a topic of a previous study.
Problems with Me: I lost focus. I was originally setting out to prove Abraham Maslow’s theory (1943) that all people have needs that fall into one of eight categories. In my latest Ferguson post Ferguson Grand Juror Sues… I discussed those needs, so in this post, I intended to tally the results to see if he was right. Perhaps it will be a topic for a future blog post.
I also had a comfort level problem which surprised me. At times I felt I was asking strangers and friends a highly personal question. I interviewed Respondent 11 early on, and it may have tainted my mindset. As a result, I have fewer males than females. An ideal study would have an equal amount.
In conclusion, my findings show that overall, whatever our age, we still care about making our loved ones happy and believe this will bring personal joy. Also, we don’t care about competing when it comes to the haves and have-nots regardless of our age. How uplifting.
If you feel anyone you know could benefit from these 20 tips for personal happiness, please share.
Readers, do you have any observations to these responses I failed to note? What do you find the secret to personal happiness is? I look forward to your views.