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Men, women and happiness
While men and women are the same species, we are very much not the same. Over time, the roles of men and women have been defined and redefined by culture, religion, fashion, politics, geography and technology. Yet there is also a personal element to the way you understand yourself as male or female.

Your gender role, ie what you have learned about what is and isn’t appropriate for your sex, comes from the way you were influenced by your family — their social, religious and cultural attitudes — as well as by your community. This influence dictates the way you are supposed to interact with the opposite sex, how you interact on superficial and intimate levels and your general attitude toward the other sex and the way in which they should play their role.

When buy canada goose jacket outlet toronto online store comes to men, women and happiness, then, buy canada goose jacket outlet toronto online store is not enough to discuss what makes each gender happy as separate entities; we also need to consider what makes us happy as partners. Men and women operate as individuals, of course, but they also operate as a partnership when in an intimate relationship. While personality type and attitude influence happiness and the buy canada goose jacket outlet toronto online store that make you happy, it’s impossible to ignore the cultural norms that differentiate what men and women should or could aspire to.

It is also important to distinguish between the two kinds of happiness that psychology defines: hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Researchers define the pleasure that comes with something like a good meal or movie as hedonic wellbeing; it is the short-term and fleeting kind of happiness that is most often associated with having a good time. Activities such as raising children, volunteering or pursuing career goals, on the other hand, may offer less pleasure on a day-to-day level but they provide a sense of fulfillment in the long run. It is this kind of happiness that researchers refer to as eudaimonic wellbeing and it is the kind of happiness that offers the most protection from illness, disease and emotional and psychological distress.

Both men and women experience these two types of happiness, though it has been argued that women are better at differentiating between the two. It is through the hedonic experience of happiness that the fundamental and superficial differences between male and female happiness exist, but it has been suggested that there are core and controversial issues that affect the happiness of each gender on a more eudaimonic level as well.

So what are the basic differences between what makes a man happy and what makes a woman happy? Excluding the influence of culture or religion, many evolutionary researchers suggest that a man’s happiness stems from the evolutionary role they have been expected to play. This argument suggests that men and women are very different because they have been designed over millions of years of evolution to be so. Yet the lives of modern men and women are not that simple.

Many commentators have spoken on the subject of the impact modernity has on men’s ability to be happy and the confusion many feel about how they should be men. There is an argument that men have been somehow demasculanised by modernity and even feminism, that there is no clear way of acting like a man. Indeed, a 2008 British study found that 61 per cent of young British men did not “feel masculine” compared with only 35 per cent of the men born from the 1920s to the 1940s. But it is not just men who worry about their “manhood”; studies have shown that women in many developed nations have reportedly complained that finding a “real man” is becoming harder.

To try to identify the traits that represent masculinity and encourage an innate sense of happiness in men, researchers have looked at concepts such as strength, honour and action. Along with the idea that men need to feel in control and as if they are contributing to their families and communities in meaningful and active ways is the incorporation of men’s “softer” side. The side that wants to feel needed by loved ones and appreciated for the efforts they make to ensure a good life. This is what may arguably go toward simplifying the idea of “man”, of giving men a clearer idea of the foundation of who they are.

This link between masculinity and happiness seems to be clear and, certainly, research from cultures that still practise the rituals that take boys to manhood reports their men being happier. These men seem to have a clear sense of who they are, what is expected of them and the behaviours that are appropriate for their sex. Gender and identity, then, it may be argued, are important aspects of happiness, laying the groundwork for day-to-day life.

And it is this day-to-day experience of life that also throws up gender differences. Research has also shown differences in the way men and women experience hedonic happiness. A British study found that, while women valued time with family, enjoyed feeling good about the way they looked and loved sunny days, men’s happiness was most influenced by their hobbies, sex and the victories of their favorite sports teams.

Yet it isn’t just what makes you happy that highlights gender difference. According to some commentators, men’s and women’s feelings are expressed in entirely different ways and even from different parts of the body. It is suggested, for example, that women feel happiness right in the middle of their chests, like a vibration of joy, while men feel their happiness as a growing energy in the upper chest, shoulders and neck, making them “puff up”.

While men’s happiness has been linked to their evolutionary gender roles, women are perceived to have a similar foundation to their happiness, too. Experts such as author John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) suggest that a woman’s happiness and energy levels come from the “oxytocin-producing acts of nurturing and being nurtured”. Research from around the world would seem to bear this out, with many female participants reporting that family and friends, spending time with them and caring for them, provide them with a strong sense of wellbeing.

While some would argue that this kind of suggestion limits women to being mothers and wives, the nurturing aspect of femininity has much broader applications and thus a larger impact on happiness. Research consistently shows that nurturing your relationships and being nurtured in return offer exceptional physical, emotional and psychological protection. Humans are, after all, essentially social creatures; our relationships are the very foundation of our sense of self and joy.

Yet, as with men, there is a body of evidence that suggests that women, too, struggle with identity, with who or what they should be: stay-at-home mum? Working mother? Not a mother at all? Many women around the industrialised world seem to struggle with how to reconcile their independent, achieving selves with a desire to give their time and energy to others; not only as a mother, of course, but as a lover, friend, colleague, daughter, sibling and community member.

It is a dichotomy that impacts heavily on happiness, for, while the vast majority of women seem to value their softer side, they are also quick to distance themselves from the soppy, doting stereotype that still exists in our collective conscious. The impression society has given women is that to be a nurturer is to be passive, to be unimportant in the greater world. The very word “nurture” seems to have a negative connotation attached to it, yet nurturing is part of being human, male or female. And it is difficult to argue that, biologically, women don’t have an innate capacity to nurture or that women most often define themselves in terms of their relationships.

Again, it would appear that, while there are gender differences in what makes you happy, the very concept of gender can keep happiness from becoming complete. This is true, too, in relationships. It would seem that men and women don’t understand each other terribly well when it comes to love and this is most obvious in intimate relationships between the two. Making each other happy is what we dearly want from relationships but achieving this seems to be troublesome.

From the literature, it would seem that understanding how men think is nearly impossible for women, and vice versa. While there is a great deal of advice out there to help you understand the differences, it is very easy to fall back on what you understand about happiness and forget that gender differences exist. This is especially true when frustration rises and communication is lacking. Inevitably, love requires work and the same kind of stepping back from emotion that you would use in other situations to achieve happiness.

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