The Happiest Women Gave This Up a Long Time Ago, Survey Finds

Updated 08/09/17

For many, the pressures of adulthood complicate the concept of happiness. While this disposition seems to come naturally in childhood, happiness is something you have to work on every day as you age. Unfortunately, this reality is more pronounced for women, according to a 2009 study on the paradox of declining female happiness. Author and researcher Marcus Buckingham unpacked the data in a post on, and then addressed the natural follow-up question: What are happy women doing differently? To answer this, he polled thousands of women on the following five questions:

  • How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
  • How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
  • How often do you get so involved in what you're doing you lose track of time?
  • How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
  • How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?

He then conducted follow-up interviews with the women who answered "every day" to four out of the five questions. In the end, he found that trying to strike the perfect balance between work, life, family, health, spirituality, and the like wasn't the answer; it was the exact opposite.

"[The happiest women] seemed to realize that not only was a perfect equilibrium nigh on impossible to achieve, but also that, even if they did manage to achieve it, it wouldn't necessarily fulfill them anyway," he explains. "When you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill. Balance is the wrong life goal." Instead, these women were adept at "tilting," or pinpointing the positive moments in each aspect of their lives and "tilting" their lives toward them. "Above all, it means giving [these happy moments] the power of your attention," he adds.

Author of Destination Simple Brooke McClary explains it like this: "Some days, you are extra busy at work—tilt toward simple meals, light home duties, and simple rhythms," she writes over on Collective Hub. "Or, say your kids are happy to play independently—tilt toward catching up on tasks around the house. On another day, maybe you need to recharge—tilt toward being kind to yourself and letting go of the things that don't help with that."

Head over to for more on what happy women do differently, and share your thoughts on "tilting" below.

Related Stories