I have been reading a fascinating book for a book club. You may have heard of it, it's called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.
It's a memoir detailing one woman's quest to test out all kinds of theories and ideas for being more happy for one year. Her approach is very methodical and well-reasoned, so it's easy to pick up great tips and ideas. Each month, she tackles another area. January is energy (how to increase it), February is marriage, March is work, and so on.
In the second chapter (also the second month: marriage), she talks on pg. 52 about something that just fascinated me: The importance of relationships with women to combat loneliness. Here are a couple excerpts:
"For example, there's an intriguing difference in how men and women approach intimacy. Although men and women agree that sharing activities and self-disclosure are important, women's idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting alongside someone." (p. 52)
and then later on, same page:
"Perhaps because men have this low standard for what qualifies as intimacy, both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men. Women have more feelings of empathy for other people than men do (although women and men have about the same degree of empathy for animals, whatever that means). 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."
I was stunned by this! I suppose I have always known that men and women communicate differently (I was a communication major for goodness' sake), but the idea that we can feel less lonely because of our interaction made me feel very proud to be a woman. I mean, I am sure there are men who are very empathetic and who can help people feel less lonely. But somehow now I feel it's my birthright to banish loneliness, just by being born a girl! That's like superhero(ine!) powers!
I started thinking about my life and how up until about three years ago, I would say I have not had very deep relationships with women. I was never able to be me, never able to really open up and be honest about my life. Amazingly, when I was able to, wonderful women came in to my life. And since then, I have felt more fulfilled, more affirmed, and more a part of something. It's true, there are things you can talk about with women friends that you can't talk about with men.
Just recently, too, I have met many lovely women: strong, capable, empathetic, intelligent women. And I feel like I'm gathering a community of happiness.
So, women of the world, I salute you!