Photo Everett Collection
We’re generally a blissful bunch, so say half of the women in Her World’s Happiness Survey 2019 – and the rest are seemingly contented.
The best indicators of happiness are career success, good health and financial security, but women seek more to find fulfilment, freedom and purpose at different stages of their lives.
In the last quarter of 2019, Her World – in collaboration with Centre For Mindfulness Singapore (CFMS) – put together Her World’s Happiness Survey 2019, and cobbled the answers from 1,241 women from different age groups to find out what makes them happy – and what does not.
The CFMS, which was established in 2015, is a one-stop centre for mindfulness training, education and practice.
Indeed, women’s options are vast today compared to a generation or two before. Women everywhere are taking strides in their careers and making a mark in the workforce.
While there’s no formula to happiness, we make bold, meaningful changes to our work, attitudes, surroundings and relationships, to set us on course for a happier life the way we know how.
Even though it can be an elusive path, a wonderful thing happens as we grow older into our 50s and 60s. As the survey results show, we become happier.
Just as life is finite, we take stock of our blessings and all that we have experienced.
Freedom gives us options
For some, happiness isn’t always about getting richer. The financially comfortable lot of 8.7 per cent who make over $10,000 do not feel the need to bump up their wealth to be happier.
It comes as no surprise that we hit a higher index for happiness as our coffers grow: Those who earn more than $10,000 a month are the happiest lot (66.7 per cent), followed by those making between $5,000 and $10,000 a month.
While the almighty dollar can’t buy happiness, it gives us the freedom and options to make decisions where money isn’t the only deciding factor.
That freedom affords us guilty pleasures such as holidays.
For instance, 84 per cent of respondents who earn over $10,000 a month splash out on annual vacations (spending at least $5,000 a year), while 55 per cent who make up to $5,000 a month spend within their income bracket on annual trips. Career and leisure are the main focus for young women in the 21-30 age group.
Senior sales manager Susan Leng, 29, says: “I work hard to save for two week-long holidays a year. I feel more refreshed and happier after that.”
Even though she clocks 50 hours a week, she says she’s happy at work – like 41.8 per cent of respondents – while 31.6 per cent are “neutral” or seemingly contented in their careers.
Many also invest in their professional development to scale the ladder in a competitive economy like Singapore’s.
Last year, more than half of the respondents upgraded their skills or learnt something new.
Good relationships make us happier
Meaningful relationships are the greatest indicators of happiness, perhaps more than money and career.
Women who are married are the happiest lot, forming 57.5 per cent of respondents.
When it comes to family, mummies are truly a blissful set.
Interestingly, 66.7 per cent with three to four children found life to be most meaningful, compared to those with up to two children or more than five children.
As mother-of-three Meredith Chu, 39, an admin manager, puts it: “My kids ‘complete’ me. Their laughter or a hug makes a bad day good, and they give me a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life.”
People to count on
And when the going gets tough, our “troops” play a significant part in our well-being.
That is, having a friend or family member whom you can confide in, providing moral support.
While six per cent of respondents say they have no support network, 41 per cent have more than four friends whom they can turn to for help first before approaching their siblings and parents, in difficult times.
This story was first published on Her World's January 2020 issue.