Would it surprise you to learn that if you were picking a governing philosophy based only on personal satisfaction, many would choose to be conservative? The perks cover everything from a potentially better sex life to the ability to lose a few pounds and a sense of greater meaning in life. Don’t take my word for it; let’s go to polls.
Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles recently reported on a study in the Social Psychological and Personality Science that looked at “five data sets that include representative samples from 16 countries,” finding that conservatives found greater meaning in life and as a result were happier.
“A question that still needs to be addressed is why conservatives find more meaning in life than liberals. Our results showed that it can’t be completely explained by the fact that conservatives are more religious than liberals and religious people find more meaning in life than nonreligious people,” study lead David B. Newman noted. Perhaps one perk is relationships.
Contrary to the Rolling Stones mantra, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” conservatives seem to be able to find a way. Research shows that conservatives report a better sex life no matter what side of the pond you live on.
And if that wasn’t enough, don’t forget the weight loss (though it would be nice if it were easier).
The LA Times, in a report on trimming the literal fat from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the conservative mindset helped people succeed. Joshua Clarkson, a consumer psychologist at the University of Cincinnati and the lead author of the paper, told the LA Times, “Conservatives tend to believe they had a greater control over their outcomes.”
Maybe conservatives are happier because at the end of the day, they made it to the end of the day with fewer expectations that someone would help them get there. There is satisfaction in a job well done.
The story noted that “conservatives who are more likely to embrace the idea of free will overwhelmingly agreed with statements like ‘Strength of mind can always overcome the body's desires’” … provided chocolate cake is not on the menu.
Can politics make you happy? Hard to say, especially given today’s political turmoil and division, but apparently leaning right can give you an advantage, no matter who happens to be in office.
“In 2006 a Pew study of public opinion in the US found that 47% of Republicans reported themselves to be ‘very happy’ compared to just 28% of liberal democrats. Republicans have reported themselves to be happier than Democrats every single year since the general social survey began in 1972 and the relationship does not seem to be mediated by whether Democrats or Republicans are in power,” notes Big Think.
It’s frustrating when the political world is spinning like a snow globe in a toddler’s hand, but it’s not the end of the world. Perhaps because conservatives take the historical perspective that things go up and down, meaning any setback is not the end of the line. It has to do with what the great conservative icon Russell Kirk called “the permanent things,” those greater factors that make us more than our circumstances and that tie us to past, present, and if we are careful enough, our future.
Conservatives, on the whole, are trying to preserve their resources, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and care for their community directly. (It’s conservatives who give more charitably.) We don’t think government does a good job tackling all of society’s problems, so to quote President Trump, on some things we want to say, “You’re fired.”
But we believe in individual potential. Like Jimmy in Blades of Glory we know, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
William F. Buckley defined the conservative movement and ideals for decades. Ed Feulner, founder and former president of the Heritage Foundation, noted that Buckley did not try to define “conservative” too rigidly, “but he offered himself as a definition, admitting he was dependent on human freedom, not as an end, but as a means — to ‘live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.’”
Maybe conservatives are happier because at the end of the day, they made it to the end of the day with fewer expectations that someone would help them get there. There is satisfaction in a job well done. If there was daily bread on the table and the lights stayed on until you wanted them off (to be with your special someone), you succeeded. Simple pleasures to be sure; but what’s wrong with that?