Having kids does not make you happy. That’s the newsflash from All Joy And No Fun, an article in New York magazine that is creating a buzz. Author Jennifer Senior, interweaving anecdotes from harried and disappointed parents with multiple studies that conclude that raising a family, if anything, will make you less happy than your childless peers, has written a damning but thoughtful portrait of modern middle-class parenting. . . .But here's the thing: Nothing actually makes you happy, not even the geegaws and doodads that our consumer-oriented society says are supposed to make you happy, except the thoughts that are passing through your own head. The happiness you feel over a new car, new house, whatever? Fleeting. Your brain will adjust back to the status quo. (That's not altogether a bad thing as your brain also adjusts back to the status quo from losses and setbacks.)
Despite its occasional whiff of baffled entitlement (wondering why, say, that parenting isn’t as much fun as going out to dinner with friends), that New York piece eventually comes to the same conclusion that most of us have: raising kids is always hard work and yet at times it’s tremendously rewarding.
But don’t look to it to make you happy. There are only, Ms. Senior writes, “moments of transcendence, not an overall improvement in well-being.”
You want to be happier at work? As a spouse? As a parent? Change the way you think about your situation. Sure, that can be hard to do, but the alternative is to have human nature, perhaps the entire world, change to accommodate you - and that's not going to happen.
(Note, there are things that can make you miserable - toxic people and situations - and it can be very healthy and appropriate to extricate yourself. Yes, you can grow accustomed to being mistreated but that's anything but a path to a healthy mental state, let alone happiness.)