The single biggest contributor to women’s happiness is not a relationship (which ranks as the second strongest contribution to women’s happiness, children, work or money – the things that are commonly believed to create happiness). What makes the most difference to women’s happiness, is, in fact their attitude to life.
The happiest women feel confident and in control of their lives (65%). They recognise the things that are within their power to change, and accept the things that aren’t, according to a new in-depth report called SHE. The comprehensive study, commissioned by Discovery Networks, explores women’s lives, attitudes and aspirations to reveal the true drivers of their happiness.
An on-line survey fielded with 5 500 women aged 20-49 years in 11 countries across Europe, Russia and South Africa was conducted, addressing topics as diverse as the ideal partner, attitudes to work and women in power, as well as money and the division of domestic responsibilities.
“SHE, unparalleled in its scope, builds on the insight we have gathered over the past few years to launch and make our global lifestyle channel TLC a success, to compare and contrast the lives and views of women from Scandinavia to South Africa, and to find out how their choices shape their lives and reveal the paths that lead them to greatest happiness,” said James Gibbons, country manager, Emerging Business, Discovery Networks CEEMEA.
In summary, the Five Hallmarks of Happiness identified, are:
1. Happiness is an attitude
- First and foremost happiness starts with a mindset
- Feeling of control equates with happiness – 65% of women who are happy with their lives agree ‘I feel in control of my life’.
- 44% have high confidence in dealing with financial matters.
- Young women are under pressure to get it right first time.
- 30% of 20-24 year olds agree ‘there are too many expectations of me to be perfect’.
- ‘I have not achieved as much as I wanted to by my age’ – 63% of Russian women in their 20s agree, 58% in Italy and 35% in the UK.
2. A partner in life
- Among women in a relationship, those who are married are happiest (46%).
- Honesty (79%) and supportiveness and loyalty (78%) ranked as the top qualities that women look for in a partner – they prioritise personality and character above material and physical assets.
- Masculine stereotypes such as money (18%) and good physique (8%) don’t make the cut when it comes to the top 10 traits that women look for in a man.
- In South Africa, the top three traits women look for in a man are: Supportive and Loyal (88%), Honest (80%) and Good Sense of Humour (64%).
- Women married for more than 10 years (45%) can be as happy as newlyweds (45%).
3. Beauty inside and out
- Women who are happy with the way they look are happier overall – confidence and beauty form a virtuous circle for women.
- That said, across every country, women agree that good health is more important than good looks – 89% of women in the South Africa agree, 86% in the UK agree, 97% in Italy and 93% in Russia.
- Young women are feeling under pressure to look ‘perfect’ – 30% of women in their early 20s agree, 15% of women aged 45-49 years.
4. It’s we, not me
- Women place enormous value on their friendships and family bonds – for them it’s about giving.
- Unconditional love and sense of fulfilment from raising a family is central to happiness.
- Women who share the responsibility of childcare (46%), are happier than women who take it on alone (38%).
- Technology has enhanced women’s support networks, and their enjoyment of life as a result.
- In Northern Europe, friends are ranked ahead of family.
- The balance of importance is weighted towards family in Italy, Russia, Poland, Romania and South Africa.
5. Social status
- Women need to feel valued for who they are and the role they play in society.
- Women are still outnumbered by men in positions of political and financial clout.
- Danish women (27%) are the least concerned about inequality in senior positions.
- Women who are working full-time are twice as likely to feel very happy with their lives right now, than women who are unemployed and not looking for work.
- However, the levels of happiness reported by mums who are working full time (42%), part time (40%) or not working (39%) are very similar.
Source: TLC, Discovery Networks