Secrets of Happiness Revealed by A 75-Year Long Study | Know Them Now
Have you ever wondered what truly makes us happy?
Is it my needs being fulfilled or getting a surprise, is it my friend next door or my furry friend, is it watching my favorite hero or dancing on my jam, what truly makes me happy?
While some happiness quotes claim that
“Happiness is not out there, it’s in you,”
others support the notion
“Happiness is enjoying the little things in life.”
What Happiness really is?
To answer this question that has been running in mankind for quite a long time now Harvard Study of Adult Development ran one of the longest studies and found out the factors that are related to happiness.
So first let us understand what happiness research was all about…
The project started in 1938 and followed 724 men since their teenage years. This group consisted of men from different social and economic backgrounds. Their health-related information was collected over years along with a pool of questions focusing on their emotional and mental wellness. Their families too were interviewed from time to time.
From this longest-running study, certain traits and factors were explored that are found to be linked with an increased level of happiness.
Let us explore the secrets revealed by this 75-year long study…
Secret 1: Good Relationships Make You Happy
The major finding of this longitudinal happiness study that got most recognition was, building healthy relationships is the key to a happy and healthy life. Period. Thinking, why? Well as Waldinger says “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
So, definitely, loneliness is neither advised nor does it links to happiness. To protect our mind, body, and soul, we need good relationships. As said by George Valliant “When the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment. But the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.”
It does make one thing clear, it is time for you to invest in relationships now!
Secret 2: Quality of Relationship Induces Happiness
But, wait! Is it the quantity or quality of the relationship that one should focus on? The research found that quantity does count in predicting happiness, but it is the quality of your relationship that matters the most. Spending quality time with others worked as an emotional buffer for the subjects, shielding them from tough times and emotional turmoil. Not only this, when asked to look back in life subjects reported that it was the good times spent with others that made them feel happy till now. Quality relationships also gave a sense of meaning in their lives.
Secret 3: A Happy Childhood Ensures Long Term Happiness
Our childhood of course has a big role to play in our happiness, even the longest happiness study supports it. Having warm and secure relationships with parents, primary care, and siblings in childhood is an important predictor of our long-term happiness. This warmth and security received in childhood days further reflect in an individual’s relationship with a spouse. An added bonus was that better childhood relationships promised better physical health as well.
Secret 4: Generativity Increases Happiness if Difficult Childhood Hampers It
People who didn’t grow in a comforting and welcoming environment were found to grow old less happily. But, interestingly in their stage of generativity i.e., the phase of their life when they were bringing up the next generation they were reportedly happier. This concept of being engaged in generativity and happiness was not only limited to parenting but also at the workplace and other situations where they were guiding the younger adults. By being a mentor of younger ones in any possible way, they did experience happiness.
Secret 5: Better the Coping Skills; Happier You Are
Coping skills are definitely the safety gear we need to ride through the difficult times like that of stress and anxiety. But, along with safeguarding us from overwhelming situations our coping skills also boosts are happiness. The happiness study by Waldinger and the team indeed identified particular unhealthy and healthy coping mechanisms that are linked with happiness.
- Adaptive coping styles identified by happiness study are altruism, suppression, and sublimation.
- Maladaptive coping skills as identified by the happiness study are denial, projection, acting out, among others.
The underlying reason behind this positive relationship between adaptive coping skills and happiness is that it helps us build stronger and healthier relationships. The positive impact of adaptive coping mechanisms was also seen in the sharper brain and healthier aging of an individual.
Well, I hope with this happiness study by Waldinger and the team you got the answer to one of the most important questions of life “What truly makes us happy?”
You can also watch Robert Waldinger Ted Talk on What Makes A Good Life
Disclaimer: A major loophole in this entire study is that these results are solely based on a sample of all white men. But, there’s good news! The Harvard team now plans to re-study happiness on a politically correct sample. Let us wait and see what holistic happiness means.
Now it is time for you to start making way for a happier and healthier life.
Wishing you all the happiness of the world…
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