What makes women happy?
Helen asked if I could help her adopt a mental state that would help her reach her goals. She wanted a promotion at a job she didn’t like, a new car like her colleagues, a vacation house/income property at a seasonal destination successful people flocked to, and she wanted to lose fifteen pounds. All this was so she could get ahead and have an edge over her competitors and contemporaries.
As a coach who only works with women, I’ve learned that what a woman thinks will make her happy at the beginning of our coaching relationship is often not what will actually make her happy.
Women often set initial goals that reflect what their family, friends, media, and marketers have told them to want. After a couple of sessions, discovering who they are independent of those influences, their goals give way to desires that, when fulfilled, transform their lives in sublime ways. This list is not inclusive. Look for pt 2).
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Equity Everywhere
We’re conditioned to believe that doing everything ourselves, at home and work, is evidence of our success and competence. I’ve had clients who work all day, like their husbands, and their second job starts when they get home. While their husbands hang out and watch TV, these women cook, clean, bathe babies, and supervise homework. Old ways die hard.
Happy women require others’ help. They recruit their partners and children to help with chores, food preparation, shopping, dog walking, laundry, and organization.
At work, women often operate under the toxic idea that they should do everything they can to help. You know, be a team player. What that often looks like is working harder, later, and outside of their job description while their male counterparts concentrate on doing what will open the way for career advancement, recognition, and more money.
Happy women allow the space, silence, and awkwardness of not snatching up every expressed need. Instead, they do a kick-ass job of doing their job while looking for opportunities to make more money in ways they enjoy.
They push themselves to ask for raises and more money. They know that being paid less than a man in the same role is unacceptable, and they actively advocate for equity. Many start their own businesses and fire the patriarchy.
Bonus Tip: Happy Women know they are replaceable at work. They know that business is business, no matter how personal it seems. They don’t manipulate themselves with thoughts like:
They really need me.
They can’t get along without me.
I know I’m doing too much, but it’s what I should do. It’s important to their success.
I’m paid less, and I work more than he is, but it’s just the way it is.
NO. So much no. Tattoo this on your brain: You’ll get what you settle for. Do not settle for being overworked, underpaid, or emotionally committed to anything unrewarding or non-reciprocal.
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Small Circle. Private Life. Peaceful Mind.
Lots of women believe they want to be popular and admired social butterflies. Most women who achieve this end find nothing meaningful. The larger your group, the greater your odds of encountering narcissists and sociopaths. Researchers state that approximately 6.2% of the population are narcissists, and up to 3.3% are sociopaths (see below). This means that approximately ten out of 100 people have the capacity to damage and destroy others’ lives.
Happy women choose deep ponds over a shallow oceans. They cultivate emotionally bonded, reciprocal, trust-filled, supportive relationships with a few people instead of fair-weathered, superficial, empty connections with people who look cool in selfies.
Studies consistently demonstrate that the quality of our relationships is one of the most significant well-being factors. Deep and reciprocal connection with others improves our health and happiness and extends our lifespan.
The number of relationships we have with friends is less important than their quality. Having a few close friends, we can rely on for support and who make us feel good about ourselves is far more beneficial than having a large group of acquaintances.
Focus on cultivating and maintaining quality relationships with those who matter most.
This can be achieved by making time for regular catch-ups, showing genuine interest in their lives, and being there when they need support.
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Revealing Passions
Women are often raised to prioritize the needs of others and ignore their own.
Do you know what you love to do? Have you discovered things that make you excited to wake up in the morning?
Make trying new things and exploring different interests a priority.
Many women I’ve coached had no idea they loved something until they tried it out. Some things for you to experiment with: write a book, paint pottery or pictures, take Bellydance, become certified in yoga, learn homeopathy, take piano lessons, throw a themed dinner party. Every suggestion here led someone I know to a total life transformation. A very happy one.
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Work You Enjoy (mostly)
If you despise your work, your days will be filled with frustration, disenchantment, and even despair. Happy women refuse to be trapped by ideas of scarcity, fear, and low self-image. They strive for work they enjoy.
Not every passion is directly profitable, and all work has undesirable aspects (the trash has to be taken out everywhere). However, every passion has a profitable job or career connected to it. Take any area of work or life that inspires you and brainstorm every industry and job role connected to it. Do you love lounging on the beach? What careers revolve around beach vacations? Everything from travel planning to hospitality, swimwear design, luxury travel blogging (and marketing everything you love).
Throw out the ingrained sense of limitation that pervades our culture and embrace possibility.
Spend an hour after work three days a week exploring a side hustle that could grow into a job/career/business you love.
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Embrace Self Care
Self-care is investing in yourself. Happy women embrace extreme self-care and are always searching for new opportunities to make themselves and their lives more comfortable, beautiful, supported, and joyful.
Investing in Self-Care:
1. Prioritize Sleep
2. Exercise Regularly
3. Practice Mindfulness
4. Eat to Live and Love
5. Regular Rest
6. Nurture Emotional Connections
7. Become a Boundary Setting Badass (Every no you say creates space for a beautiful yes)
8. Get More Profitable Skills
9. Find Things That Make You Laugh
10. Help Causes You Love
(This list is short and general. LMK if you’d like an in-depth post about how to invest in yourself)
The Secret to Women’s Happiness: Follow Your Good Feelings
We’re taught to follow a set path, one that’s independent of our good feelings. It’s all wrong. You may get where you intended to go, but you won’t be happy. One of my favorite authors Martha Beck advocates living by a “shackles off” feeling. Martha says that when we’re contemplating doing anything and the thought makes us feel contracted, uncomfortable, limited, or icky, that’s “shackles on,” and we should steer clear. What I love about this test is its clarity. Test it out. Think about seeing someone you love and doing something fun. Do you notice a warm sense of expansion and lightness? Now think about offering to clean the garage of someone you think is a jerk. Yep, shackles on.
Before Martha’s catchy framing of this concept, I called it “follow the glow.” When making a decision, I check in with my body and see what it feels about the prospect. It knows. Happy women follow what feels good in our cells and center.
What’s Your Happiness Secret?
When Helen detached from what others wanted her to do, she discovered that what she really desired was to feel a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. Keeping up with the Joneses wasn’t going to give her this. Instead, her happiness would come through expressing her creativity, building close relationships, traveling to places that inspire awe, and getting a dog. She left her job and started an event planning business. With the weight of others’ expectations eliminated and dog walks added her body felt healthy and strong. She says the path to happiness was always there, she’d been afraid to go against the group and follow it.
You’re a smart, important, valuable, and beautiful person. You are (even if you haven’t realized it). I’m interested in knowing what increases your happiness. Leave a comment or send me a note.