Knowing what I’ve been writing about lately, my father sent me a link to this article about What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently. It’s a piece by Marcus Buckingham highlighting findings from his recent book.
I had seen this article last week. My first reaction had been “What does a person named Marcus know about women’s happiness?” But when I got past this resistance, I realized the author has some very good information.
In surveying women, Buckingham found that the “happiest” among us strive not for balance but imbalance—in other words, leaning toward moments that create happiness while letting go of those that drain us. As my friend Shannon once told me, “Do what makes you strong.”
This is simple, yet not easy. To do what makes us strong means knowing what makes us strong. To know this, we have to commit to finding out. This, I believe, is our path to contentment and connection to others.
A thoughtful and generous blogger friend brought another idea to mind. She commented on my recent posts about how cultural norms can harm us. Then she pointed out my inconsistency in posting, last week, a list of ways French women stay slim. Was I contributing to the problem by bolstering the importance of thinness?
This is a good point. On the one hand, I want the world to take women seriously. On the other, I’ve absorbed many messages about what I think we’re supposed to be. The list includes pretty, thin, and accommodating. As long as I hold myself to these expectations, it follows that I will continue to pass them around.
Twice this week I’ve observed how I unknowingly devalue the “feminine” in myself and other women. At a social event at our house, I found myself taking a much greater interest in the husband’s academic work than the wife’s business selling cosmetics. Why did I? I don’t like it when that happens to me. Now, I think I’m genuinely more interested in history than cosmetics, but still…why didn’t I ask about her work to take an interest in her life?
A couple days later I got my hair cut. In the salon, I became aware that I quietly look down on “women’s” talk about clothes, hair, food, and their husbands, such as I heard in the salon. This time, I allowed myself to join in. My jaws flapped and I laughed freely. In the process, I found that the subject matter was just an entry to the heart of talk that was not shallow. We were sharing, in a way that’s maybe uniquely “female,” how we make decisions, relate to others, and solve daily problems. This is the stuff of real life.
It felt good to let myself join a sisterhood that day. It didn’t matter, really, what we talked about. What mattered was that we were women listening to each other and being kind. I had a good time. I felt part of a community.
I felt happy.
Click photo for link to Photobucket.