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July 20, 2019

How Busy Women Fool Ourselves Into Thinking We Are Happy

So you’ve been told that you need to get educated, get a great job, get married, buy a house, get a raise, make babies and juggle all those balls for many years and that will make you happy.

On most days, you are getting it done and on most days you are feeling okayish. Afterall, you have the job and house and kids and husband. Why aren’t you feeling happy and fulfilled?

You are doing it all and you have it all, so you should be happy, right? The reality is that women have more things, make more and are less happy than ever. We are more medicated for anxiety and depression while we are convincing ourselves that we can have it all and do it all. The dual burden sometimes makes some women feel simply miserable and exhausted.

BUT there is hope! There is an antidote for this. It has a lot to do with our expectations and the stories we tell ourselves. Happiness is not something we seek, but rather something we choose. You were sold a bill of goods. It was never true that these things alone would bring you happiness. The good news is that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with your life.

The problem is you believed that attaining those things would make you happy and you are stumped and frustrated that it doesn’t. It can’t. It never could. It’s not out there.

It’s inside yourself.

It’s kind of like when someone gushes about how great something tastes and you taste it and it just tastes okay and you are disappointed. If someone told you the same thing was very good for you and tasted okay as well, you would eat it and have a very different experience.

Maybe you are single and you are thinking if I can just find my soulmate… or you are married and expecting your husband to fulfill you and make you happy.

18 long term studies (Psychology Today, 2013) revealed that being married does not result in being happier or having a more satisfied life.

Women are actually less happy in marriages than men. I am not suggesting that you chuck your marriage. I love marriage. I believe in marriage, but you definitely shouldn’t expect it by itself to give you the happiness you desire.

If you’re seeking happiness by making more money and you already make $75,000 or more per year, research demonstrates that won’t do it either. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make more, I’m just saying that it won’t bring you happiness.

The main reason busy women tend to feel depressed and unfulfilled is that they don’t understand the recipe for happiness.

So, is there anything you can do to create happiness in your life? Yes! If you are realizing that you need to create more happiness in your life- or even some at all, you need to incorporate these 5 aspects into your busy life.

1. Strong Friendships- We humans were made to be in relationship with each other. Babies die if they are not touched. Even if all of their other needs are met, without human connection, they literally DIE.

This is an extreme example of how crucial connection is for humans. Even though you may be connected as a wife and mother, women need a sense of community with other women for support in everyday life. As a busy woman, it can be hard to find the time for friendship or to even see the benefits of it in your life.

I get it. You have so many other obligations, but we know that fostering these connections in your life increases your sense of well being and over all happiness and satisfaction with your life. Everyone benefits from that.

2. Exercise- just move your body regularly- you don’t have to be a gym rat. Pick something you enjoy doing. More importantly, pick a time when you will actually do it.

Some bodies exercise well first thing in the morning. Others work well in the middle of the day. A recipe for success is to know your body and pick a time and activity that works best for you.

Your body was made to move. Invest in movement. Do it with a friend and you’ve just killed two birds.

3. Regular practice of gratefulness- Gratefulness can sometimes be as simple as changing the story you tell yourself about your circumstances (remember the food example earlier?). When you highlight the good, the bad fades into the back ground. Happiness is a choice and it begins with a paradigm shift in your thought process about yourself in the world.

Find something every day to be thankful for. Write it down- even if it is just a word or a quick sentence. The process of writing it moves your thought from short-term memory to longer-term memory and increases its impact on your brain.

4. Hobby or meaningful activity that you enjoy- You need one thing that you enjoy so much that when you do it, you lose time. Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on what we need to do or what we feel we should be doing that we neglect the things that we are actually good at doing.

When we aren’t trying to compare ourselves to others, we will naturally gravitate to those things we actually do well. There is so much intrinsic joy in living life in our zone. That intrinsic joy decreases our blood pressure and creates happiness hormones that bring fulfillment to our life. If you can get your family involved in your hobby, even better!

5. Helping Others (some form of altruism)- doing something for others gets your mind off of your own problems for a while. It gives you a chance to put your life in perspective. Research has demonstrated that those who give, volunteer or practice some form of altruism are happier and have reduced rates of depression, even if they previously suffered from depression.

Getting your kids involved in handing out food to the homeless or making care packages for those in need is a wonderful opportunity to model happiness creating activities for them and you are helping the world in the process.

The beautiful thing is that these are easy to incorporate in your life. Just add one at a time.

Once you realize that you jumped off the happy train a few stops ago, you can get off, change direction and make choices that create happiness again in your life.

Remember, happiness is a choice and not greatly affected by life situations.



Dr. Zoe Shaw is a licensed psychotherapist and life and relationship coach for struggling superwomen. Text the word “join” to 38470 to get access to her free monthly newsletter for tips, encouragement and inspiration for busy women like you.

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