Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist and he blogs over at Psychology Today. Earlier this week he published a post called “How to be happy” (Hat tip to the BCC sideblog). Here are some relevant excerpts:
What can evolutionary psychology say about how to be happy? …
I would say that the best thing for people to do to become happier is to get in touch with their animal nature … Recognize and accept that we are animals. We are all designed by evolution to be certain way, and no amount of denial or fighting will change our evolutionary legacy and its implications.
One of the things that evolution has done is to make men and women very different. … One of the ways that men and women are different is in what makes them happy.
Forget what feminists, hippies, and liberals have told you in the last half century. They are all lies based on political ideology and conviction, not on science. Contrary to what they may have told you, it is very unlikely that money, promotions, the corner office, social status, and political power will make women happy. Similarly, it is very unlikely that quitting their jobs, dropping out of the rat race, and becoming stay-at-home dads to spend all their times with their children will make men happy.
Money, promotions, the corner office, social status, and political power are what make men happy (as long as they win, of course, but then dropping out is by definition a defeat). Spending time with their children is what makes women happy. … it is very unlikely that women will be truly happy without having children …
Men and women are very different, because they are designed by millions of years of evolution to be very different. Women cannot become happy by pretending to be men, and men cannot become happy by pretending to be women.
By happy coincidence for Mr. Kanazawa, two days later Neilson released a study that backed up his opinions very nicely. Here is an excerpt from the Reuters article on the study:
LONDON (Reuters) – Men are happier with money, while women find greater joy in friendships and relationships with their children, co-workers and bosses, a new global survey reveals. …
“Because they are happier with non-economic factors, women’s happiness is more recession-proof which might explain why women around the world are happier in general than men are,” Nielsen Vice President of Consumer Research Bruce Paul said in a statement.
Now if this advice sounds familiar to our Mormon readers that is probably because it is strikingly similar to the advice we Mormons have received on how to be happy from our spiritual leaders. Here are some relevant quotes from the The Family: A Proclamation to the World:
The family is ordained of God. … Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. … By divine design, fathers are … responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
So from both of the perspectives the goal of human happiness is best achieved via fathers primarily making the money and providing for the family while women primarily care for children. But while the means and the ends match very closely, the explanation for why the recipe works is very different. One says our bodies have been pre-programmed by millions of years of evolution to make this recipe work and the other says that God designed it that way.
Perhaps the real question is whether these two explanations are even at odds with each other. I suspect not. Yet one approach says we need to embrace our inner animal to be happy and the other approach preaches that “the natural man is an enemy of God”. So clearly there is some severe disagreement between the philosophies. Strange bedfellows indeed.
What say ye?