Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pursuit of happiness

The Economist last week had an interesting article (see Lexington column) about happiness. It cited a book called "Gross National Happiness" written by Arthur Brooks. The Economist article focused on the part of the book that looks at how happy parents are and whether they are happier than non-parents. Interestingly American parents (the book only looked at research data from the US) are much more likely to say they are happy than non-parents. Brooks argues that this is for two reasons: children lend meaning to life in the long term; people who are predisposed to being happy are more likely to have children.

The review of the research data did, however, show that if you ask what parents enjoy doing they are more likely to say almost anything other than looking after their children (worryingly, praying was more enjoyed). Mr Brooks is quoted as saying, "There are many things in a parent's life that bring great joy. For example, spending time away from children".

In amongst all the guilty little secrets that exist around parenthood, expressing a desire to not be with ones child seems to be the worst. However, this research proves that parents relish their time without as much as with their children. I wholeheartedly agree.

I have recently been in a position to give advice to a couple of friends and friends of friends about motherhood and the future. I am the worst person to give advice because I change almost daily between thinking this is the best thing I have ever done to being very resentful about what I have had to give up (a couple of significant things I have had to give up this week has brought the resentment to the surface). However, my advice has been very simple to those contemplating parenthood or even just life's direction - what do you see your future being in 5 years, 10 years? Who and what will it contain?

When I think about my future I see Eve. Which, above all else, is why I know that I made the right choice and even though there will be times that I hate it, motherhood ultimately brings me joy and happiness.

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