Are you happy?

According to the American Family Survey, a poll conducted by YouGov and the Deseret News, you have a significantly better chance of being happier if you’re a conservative rather than a liberal.

By wide margins, liberals trail conservatives when it comes to satisfaction with their mental health, family life – and life overall. The gap is particularly strong between conservative and liberal women.


Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist who serves as the director of the National Marriage Project and is Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, says, “Marriage and family are strongly linked to happiness and to personal mental health in particular. The secret to happiness, for most men and women, involves marriage and a life based around the family.”

In other words, God’s plan trumps the world’s convoluted and confused imitations and fabrications.

Of course, you wouldn’t know this by popular culture, which regularly emphasizes and champions autonomy and obligation-free living, especially sex outside of marriage, the carefree lifestyle and all the memories money supposedly can buy.

Hollywood and Madison Avenue may try and hock their versions of happiness, but in the end, people aren’t buying it.

Digging into the data, it’s clear that true and lasting satisfaction comes from living for others. The self-centered life may come with a shiny wrapper, but it proves to be unfulfilling. One of the reasons there’s such a chasm between conservative and liberal women is because conservative women are more likely to pour themselves into their husbands and children. This effort can be exhausting and sometimes seem thankless, but the importance and fulfillment of the sacrifice cannot be overstated.

I’m reminded of my own mother, a diminutive Irish woman who devoted nearly 40 of her 80 years to raising five children. She was valedictorian of her Lincoln High School class in Jersey City, NJ, worked as a secretary to the CEO of the Equitable Life Insurance Company in New York City, and resigned her position to begin her career as a mom. You could always find her in the kitchen in the morning and again in the afternoon preparing dinner for her crew. Throughout the day she hustled after all the tasks of homemaking. She set aside her dream of being a writer in order to nurture and raise her kids.

Nobody will ever find or read a book authored by Joan Batura, but as we sat with her during those final days back in 2012, she was a grand and gracious lady at perfect peace. I even recall her talking about how “happy” a life she had lived. No mention of regrets. She had enjoyed a 57-year marriage and raised and launched four sons and a daughter. A strong believer in Jesus Christ, she was grateful and ready to meet Him. 

The results of the American Family Survey lay bare the lies of the culture, many of which we’re even guilty of embracing from time to time. Why else would we reach so longingly for the things that will soon fade over time, if even satisfy in the short-term?

It was Abraham Lincoln who once remarked, “We’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” He was right. The key, though, is making sure we’re setting our minds on the things that won’t fade or falter – beginning with our faith in Jesus Christ and devotion to our families and friends.