Monday, July 12, 2010

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is a self-help book that I'm currently about 1/6 of the way through. Honestly I doubt I'll finish it, since I have a bad track record with completing self-help books, but  for the most part this is an interesting read, primarily because the author supports her arguments and statements so well with research from a lot of different areas of thought (middle eastern philosophy, ancient Socratic discourse, psychological, anthropological, modern fiction). One of the statements she made in the book is that: "In fact, for both men and women—and this finding struck me as highly significant—the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women. Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference." She doesn't list a reference but it's something that has been completely and totally proven in my own experience.

When I was in high school, I was friends with a lot of women but I didn't feel a sense of loyalty with most of them. High school was a dramatic time and it felt like friendships were made and broken every other week. Recently I lugged out a box of notes that I had passed back and forth with friends in high school, and it was amazing how allegiances changed from week to week. In one note it would talk about how mad I was at Ashley for doing X Y and Z, and then two weeks later there would be a note between me and Ashley about Erin.

In college, I joined a sorority. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about working with and interacting with people, especially Asian people (who I had zero experience with), but I didn't really find any life-long friendships there. Mostly I hung out with my male friends, but I always felt strangely dissatisfied. Men are great people to spend time with--at the time, I found them to be much less critical and catty than women. (little did I know that that isn't necessarily true) but I still felt like there was something missing--there isn't as much deep dialogue about feelings with men as there is with women. I still sought out interactions with women that were fulfilling.

I think that part of the female experience is feeling like you have people who understand you. When I talk to my male friends or my boyfriend about their thoughts on life or themselves, when they ask me for advice it's rarely to resolve conflicting feelings or how to move forward given their emotions on a particular issue. It's usually very concrete: given these factors, what should I do? My boyfriend rarely vents to me, but when he does, it rarely includes an explanation of why he felt a certain way, it's always a breakdown of someone's actions and how they directly affected him or his work. I love him and I talk to him about a lot of things, but I've come to understand very quickly that there are just some things that are more gratifying to discuss with my female friends instead.

In the past few years, thanks to pole dancing, I've found women to be a rich infusion into my daily life (working in a male-dominated industry means I can literally go a full day without female interaction). Whether it is talking or emailing with some of the women who I've truly opened my heart to, or teaching a class full of women I barely know, I think it's definitely true that I've never felt so fulfilled and surrounded with love as I do now.


  1. HI! i'm interested in this book.. I'll have to go nab a copy when i'm not busy or read it while i'm at borders.

  2. Amy.. I am loving ALL your posts, this particular one really hit home though... We practically share the same exact experiences.

    My life is surrounded by the opposite sex. I grew up with one brother, my dad practically raised us because mom worked all the time, I never really had any 'girl friends', I work in a male dominated field, I work with ALL men, the last 3 years I went to school, 99% of all my classes had all guys, and I have a son...

    Admittedly, I AM picky with choosing female friends because I've encountered SO many that are boy crazy and too 'girly girl' for me. I guess I'm just more comfortable with men... UNTIL S.

    I haven't met one S girl that I didnt like. I've never had so much support, encouragement, and fun from a group of women. And it continues outside the studio walls. It's an amazing feeling and you're SO right about the rich infusion.

    It's still hard for me to open up and just 'hang out' with women. I get oddly nervous because I'm not used to it. I'm used to just keeping my thoughts and emotions to myself and just hearing all the guys talk and taking mental notes on some very interesting info.

    Thanks for this post, it really got me thinking... <3

  3. @co919598 thanks for stopping by and commenting! i *think* i know who this is. if so, i'm glad that you found a kinShip in the women of S. i've changed so much since i joined the ranks, and whether or not i am an active member i still am so grateful.

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