Recently I ran across a relatively old piece about a study in which psychologists tried to determine the happiest people and the unhappiest people. The study concluded, with remarkable statistical precision, that the happiest people were 39-year-old married men with one child that made a certain income and had a wife who worked part-time, and the unhappiest people were 42-year-old single women who worked in professional jobs and made less than $100,000 per year.
I’m skeptical of studies that purport to broadly determine the emotional state of groups based on various characteristics. I’m not sure how you could account for all of the factors that go into the happiness mix — wouldn’t individual health, the health of family members, and the conditions in your workplace aside from income, for example, have an awfully important bearing on an individual’s happiness?– and I also think the study overlooks the obvious: people to their conditions differently based on their own unique temperaments.
I do think, however, that men could well be happier than women because men tend to be less sensitive and often find happiness in things that many women find silly. Men remind me of the scene in Meet The Parents where Robert DeNiro, explaining why he likes cats more than dogs, said he prefers more emotionally complex animals. One of my male friends once said that he would be happy so long as he had a plate of spaghetti and tickets to a ball game. It was a valid observation, and all of the other guys in the room nodded and agreed.
I’d be willing to bet that, if you took a survey of men in cities with NFL or major college football teams near the end of the regular season, you’d find that men in cities with winning teams were happier than men in cities with losing teams. Should true happiness be tied to the won-loss record of a group of athletes wearing gaudy uniforms? Philosophers and psychologists would say of course not — but that’s the reality.
By the way, I’m hoping the Buckeyes will be good this year. As for the Browns . . . .