A controversial study in 2002 conducted by the Institute for American Values, (a private organization that promotes marriage and family life), concluded that unhappily married adults that divorced were no happier afterwards that unhappy married adults that stayed together.
However, Dr. Yannis Georgellis, Director of the Center for Research in Employment, Skills, and Society at Kingston Business School in London England, found something quite different from the organization that was promoting marriage and family life. He spent 20 years studying 10,000 UK citizens between 16 and 60 to determine happiness levels before and after “major life milestones” such as a divorce, death, marriage, or unemployment. (10,000 is a lot of subjects and 20 years is a long time!)
His results showed that women are significantly more happy than usual for up to five years after getting a divorce. Men felt slightly happier after divorcing but not at a statistically significant level.
Dr. Georgellis’s explanation is that despite the fact there can be financial hardships after divorcing, unhappy women feel more liberated after a divorce than men.
Love lives didn’t have the biggest impact on happiness, however. Unemployment had a more negative impact on the happiness level of both men and women for up to five years, but especially for men. He postulates that men are used to being the breadwinners so it’s particularly difficult for them. Even if they find another job, the “scar” or trauma of being unemployed lingers on for years!
What’s the moral of this story? If you’re a man in England (or I suspect about anywhere around the globe), try to stay married. No matter what sex you are, if you want to stay happy, try your best not to get fired or quit your job.
But if you do find yourself without work or dealing with any significant life-changing event, be sure to keep processing your emotions so you don’t get stuck in a rut of sadness, anger and fear. According to Attitude Reconstruction, emotions are nothing but pure energy in the body: “Emotion” = E (energy) in motion. When you stifle your emotions, you naturally default to bad attitudes and habits. The fastest and healthiest way to release pent-up emotional energy is to express the emotional energy physically and constructively in a safe setting. Allow the pure sensation to move out of your body by crying, pounding, or shivering.
Instead of pulling inward and becoming rigid or confused, confront your emotions head on. Crying will miraculously get your stuck energy moving again. You can “make” yourself cry by watching a sad movie, for example, or by looking at old photos.
Express anger physically, by stomping, pounding a heavy bag or old cushion, or screaming into a pillow.
Make your entire body quiver, tremble, and shake to release the pentup fear you feel. Ham it up rather than tighten up and hold it in.
Dealing with unexpressed emotions can mean the difference between seeing new possibilities or being bogged down in trauma mentality. This works great for processing relationships as well. Move that energy out of the body and pave the way for happier days, months and years ahead.