So, Who Are You?

We are busy

Single people, people in relationships, people having a family – we buzz around all day long, in the pursuit of deeds that we perceive more or less meaningful.

Even the standard reply to the question “How are you?” has changed from “I am fine.” to “I am busy”. I wonder. Is it possible that we WANT to keep ourselves busy? Otherwise, how would we know what to do with ourselves? What thoughts and feelings would we have during half an hour of sitting in silence?

With whom to be better connected than with yourself?

When the evening comes and we put our head on the pillow, do we impersonate the wife, mother, student or subordinate that we were during daytime? Why not trying to find ourselves in the few minutes before sliding into the world of sleep?

What a treat at the end of the day, to reconnect to ourselves, to the joyous soul with which we came into this world! If we want to know why we came into this world, wouldn’t it be sensible to try to figure out who we were when we landed here? Who we were before we were damaged?

Maybe one night we get lucky and we feel our soul. We feel its core, its breath, and its wholeness. Who knows what else we would discover about who we truly are?

What if we don’t know how to reconnect to ourselves?

We need to look for help from the external environment so that we are put on the right track, which we would later follow on our own.

We need EXPOSURE. We need to start opening the channel that connects us to ourselves. For example, finding a group of people who are in a similar search and join them. Talk and discuss.

See the example of the Paphos Seminar, a one-week seminar on the psychology and philosophy of the good life, which has been organised twice a year for 18 years in Paphos, Cyprus by the philosopher Esa Saarinen (professor at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland). The aim of the seminar is to help people “to construct their own ideas and to spread them internally”, “to open a broadband channel to people’ subjective sense of life orientation.” No ideas are imposed, simply a framework of philosophical ideas that offer food for thought. The participants are free to become emotional as they reflect upon different themes related to life, such as “present moment”, “love”, “choice” and “respect”. At the end of the seminar, each attendant discovers new insights into herself/himself.

The idea of this seminar can be replicated at a smaller case by you, me, by everyone. For example, how about gathering a group of friends with an interest in say, finding happiness, and discuss relevant books, every three months? (since we are busy people, maybe a more frequent interval for meetings is out of question.)

How about those ones of us who are too shy and too introvert for such sort of group activities? In this case, skipping the discussions and reading books on our own may equally help. Whatever works as long as we feel we have reached access the core of our souls.

Reflecting upon our life is enlightening the haze inside us. We don’t know why we are here but we should feel grateful for the life that was offered to us. Why not do the most with it and start by rescuing ourselves?

So What If Men Were Happier Than Women?

We were driving to a friend’s place and I was complaining how much I hate Winter. The frozen and grey landscapes unfolding in front of my eyes stunned me. The thought that this Winter will be around for the next five months horrified me even more. I came up with scenarios of escapes to milder climate. “You pay too much attention to what happens around you,” , my husband said. “Ignore the weather!”

“Men must be happier than women”, I mumbled to my chin. It was a generalisation on the spur of the moment, but it got glued to my mind. I knew I am not the only one who thinks that men are happier. Every woman must think the same at least once in their lifetime. Is it really true that men are the favourites of God? I got curious: how did researchers in psychology and sociology tackle this issue?

The latest results come from research in genetics, which concludes that women may actually be happier than men. Scientists in genetics identified a specific gene, which is correlated with the self-reported happiness of the women which took part in the study ( The correlation did not exist in sample of men which participated to the study. This specific gene is called monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) and it determines how the brain processes dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals which determine our innate level of happiness.


Furthermore, the scientists explain that the testosterones prevent men from being happy in the long-run. The older men get, the levels of testosterones increase and cancel the positive effects of the MAOA on men’s mental state.


Psychologist Sonja Lyubomisrky says that both men and women have equal chances to become happier, despite the happiness level determined by their genes. In her book, “The How of Happiness“, Sonja Lyubomirsky agrees that both men and women have a genetically determined predisposition towards happiness of 50%. As we become adults, 10% of our happiness is coming from life circumstances, such as income level or marital status – surprisingly little, I may say. We are left with this significant 40% chance to happiness, which is great news from everyone, including the born depressed ones!


Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist in collaboration with four psychologists analysed the data of a survey on the happiness of women and men in USA over the last four decades ( Based on this study, men are happier than women in our modern society. Men are working less and relaxing more. Women have two jobs, one paid and the other one at home, even though they admit cleaning the house is not done as thoroughly as three decades ago. In addition, women have longer to-do lists, which can be stressful if tasks are left undone. For example, women spend 90 minutes more than men on unpleasant activities, such as paying bills.


Anke Plagnol, sociologist at Cambridge University and Richard Easterlin, economist at the University of Southern California, compared responses to two surveys – one on aspirations and attainments and the other on satisfaction and happiness ( They concluded that women are happier in the first part of adulthood but in the mid-life there is a change-over in the happiness level. Women become more depressed whereas men are more likely to be more fulfilled and happier, and it all comes down to unfulfilled desires.


So, who is happier than who? Women seem to be born with a special gene, which helps them smile throughout life. The testosterone cancels out the effect of this special gene in men, which makes men grumpier as they grow old. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and her two colleagues bring good news to both genders by showing that we have the capacity to fight for happiness. Poor or wealthy, married or divorced, healthy or unhealthy, man or woman, we have the power to improve our lives.


How can women fight for their happiness despite their spending more time on unpleasant activities or unfulfilled goals? After a certain age, the feeling of fulfilment is the main source of happiness. Maybe life didn’t go exactly as you hoped for – this is valid for both genders. Yet, whenever you feel unfulfilled, take a closer look at your life and you’ll see there is at least one aspect which has meaning. Start from there the way towards happiness and continue it with the change of your mindset.


In the end, I guess that men and women are happy in their own way, with the peculiarities in which the nature designed them to have. For example, women are designed to give birth to their babies and men to spread their seeds. Women get to experience the happiness of feeling their baby move inside them. Men get to experience the happiness of impregnating the woman they love (ideally).


Women may come from Venus and men from Mars but they live on Earth and they can teach one another some lessons of happiness. For example, women can learn from men how to be more confident in life and relax more. In their turn, it is high time that men learnt that sharing with their spouses the less pleasant activities, like housekeeping, is a simple way to maintain the happiness in their relationship.


Finally, life is by far more exciting with all the differences between men and women. No matter who is happier than who, happiness can be contagious, so watch out with whom you are hanging out!