Saturday, September 26, 2009

Am I Happy?

By Christine Thackeray

This week I've had a cold which has left me a little down. In an attempt to lift my spirits, I noticed a book about "Happy People" and decided to read it. In the late seventies Jonathan Freeman did a study on happiness. Although he was clear that there is no simple recipe for happiness, he did hypothesize that different categories of people were more happy if certain things in their lives were in harmony. He called these the "Ten Pillars of Happiness." They were different for single and married people and for men and women. For married women he found the list went as follows:

1. Being in love
2. Marriage
3. Partner's happiness
4. Sex life
5. Recognition
6. Personal Growth
7. Primary Activity
8. Friends and Social life
9. Health
10. Being a parent

Now, right off the bat I considered the study flawed because these were the priorities of people who claimed they were most happy. I mean every euphoric newlywed will claim to be extremely happy whereas when life starts hedging in marriage alone might not keep you there. Still, I have to admit that the quality of our marriages is the largest factor in our happiness (which entails the first four items on the list).

What really got me about this study is that it reminded me of a scripture I was reviewing in Proverbs 31 last week about women being more precious than rubies. I personally hold that this list is a basic blueprint of an ideal priority list for women's greatest happiness. Anyway, here it is:

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no
need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I think its fascinating that the number one item in this list is marriage as well. Only it is far more specific about which aspect of marriage we need to work on- that we are careful with his "heart." The we don't stamp on his feelings, injure his ego or intentionally push his buttons.

The line "so that he shall have no need of spoil" holds special significance. In a Biblical sense, spoil is most often referred to as the fall out of conflict, as in spoils of war. How many marriages go through difficulty because a clever wife throws a zinger at her husband who in turn isn't quite as adroit so he tries to get her back with something that harms their relationship? Then she blames him instead of looking at herself and that initial act. Not only have I been guilty, but I can think of a handful of examples from my closest friends. Wow, I'm going to be nicer, especially when I'm tired or hormonal.

Ironically, I had planned to write about the number TWO item on the list- recognition and personal growth, i.e. wool and flax, as in pursuing writing or other talents in balance with responsibilities, but there you are. Often in writing our characters don't do what we plan, and I guess for me today blogging went the same way.

Now I'm going to go upstairs and give my poor hubby a hug. He caught my cold.