“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”
As humans, we like to know things. We are comforted by certainties, and when we don’t know about a particular group of people, a new concept or a different way of doing something, it is unsettling. A simpleton defense is to fear the unknown and seek no further, place a label on it and build barriers keeping the unknown out, but a rational and sensible approach (yes, which will take effort and some more time) is to question, investigate and gather knowledge. When we have first-hand knowledge and information from credible sources, we then know, and therefore, can eliminate unnecessary and irrational fears and thereby render labels such as stereotypes debunk because every situation is unique unto itself.
With the recent repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law here in the United States, I began contemplating the effects of stereotypes on those that are labeled unfairly and how this judgment can shape a culture. I then came across an article by Meghan Neal titled “Who’s Happier: Single or Married Women?” that revealed an interesting effect of a culture’s misconception and how stereotyping can adversely shape those unjustly placed under the label.
What Meghan Neal’s article revealed was interesting. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of married people is steadily dropping – 72% in 1970 to 48% in 2010.” What she goes on to reveal is that choosing to be married is no more a precursor in determining one’s happiness than choosing to remain single is – what matters is our attitude and approach to living well regardless of our relationship status. However, if one succumbs to society’s pressures and beliefs that being married must be better than being single, then at the moment of the wedding and for a short term thereafter there is the illusion of more elation, but is a pseudo feeling from a source that should have no factor in how we feel at all. Needless to say, if we’re a generally happy and content person single and we use common sense when choosing our partner, then we have a greater chance of continuing to be happy when we’re married, and the reverse is also the same.
If society is the determining factor in what stereotypes are created and believed, and you and I make up society, then let’s let go of the stereotype that is pressuring women (and men) to believe they must rush into marriage to be happy. Let’s instead support the notion that like anything of value that is worth pursuing in life, we must do our homework. In the case of marriage, we must choose to understand who we are first, become grounded in that knowledge and create loving, supportive and honest relationships along the way. We also must be realistic. Marriage – a good marriage – takes work on both partners’ parts and we must stop judging – whether a person is single, whether they are married, and let them live their lives, as we go about the business of living our own lives, doing the best we can.
Today, I’d like to address this notion that one’s relationship status determines their happiness. After looking at the demographics of the readers of The Simply Luxurious Life, I discovered that the line is pretty much drawn down the middle – half of you are unmarried (single, divorced or widowed) and thus, half of you are married. The fact that you choose to stop by tells me you are seeking fulfillment and ways to improve your life. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve said “I do” or not. Choosing to seek happiness and a better life for yourself is a choice that is based on who you are as a person, not on your relationship status. And that choice, that attitude, will determine your happiness.
You see, whether we say it with our words, our actions, or by what we laugh at on television or under our breaths, we convey to those around us who are impressionable about what is perceived to be okay and what is not. Choose to be less judgmental, be more open to communicating and understanding, letting the fear dissipate and a more accepting community will reveal its true potential. In other words, let go of stereotypes and choose to do your own legwork, instead of relying on what you’ve “heard”.