To find out what really makes women happy, Ariel Gore asked a dozen of them to keep a happiness journal. In her book, "Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness," she discusses the results.
Q: What did the journals reveal?
A: I found that moments of flow -- those activities in which we lose track of time -- were most significant. That sense was different for each person -- some experienced it while working on the computer, swimming laps, painting, gardening, serving dinner at a homeless shelter, or meditating in an ashram.
Q: You kept a journal yourself -- reluctantly.
A: I know, and the study was my idea! It just felt hokey. But by the second week, I noticed I was happier when I'd let myself write for an hour longer, or when I dragged myself out of bed to go to yoga in the morning.
Sometimes what made me happy was obvious: a compliment, or a rite of passage in one of my children's lives. But what really surprised me when nothing exciting was going on -- I'd be driving across a bridge and the sun would be shining. I noticed the simple act of recording those moments actually expanded them.
Virtually all of the women who kept journals had a similar experience. The reason seems to be twofold: First, we trained ourselves to notice and appreciate those moments more fully. Second, when we took the time to remind ourselves each day what made us happy, we were more likely to intentionally schedule more of that thing.
Q: What advice do you have for women seeking happiness?
A: Watch less TV, and spend more time with friends. Experiment with doing less housework and getting more sleep. Start the happiness journal. Embrace your inner dork.
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