More importantly: what is it? What makes us happy? It is something so basic that we already know the answer. Probably our mothers have told us this a million times: fame, fortune and even good health do not ensure happiness. Now it has been confirmed by the Grant Study: what makes us happy is good relationships.
Good life is built with good relationships” — Mark Twain
Robert Waldinger, the new head of the seventy-five year long Grant Study, thought that the study’s results, to-date, were important to share with the public, since we paid for it. Watch the TedTalk found in this link: Harvard Researchers Discovered The One Thing Everyone Needs for Happier; Healthier Lives.
The study has followed the lives of some Harvard students, the original group including famous people like John F. Kennedy, for seventy-five years. It continues to follow those still alive. In the ’70s the Grant Study joined with a study of the poorest men of that same time and the result: rich or poor, healthy or sick, if you had good, meaningful connections with your fellow men and women, you were happy.
So scrap those 7 things I told you last week, all we need is love!
Romantic love is the foundation for a happy life, but as we know, it is easy to be in love, it is hard work to be in marriage. We need to work at sustainable relationships that mutually support each other. Contentious relationships, even if long-lived, the Grant study confirmed, are bad for your health.
Romantic love alone is not enough. It is also important to have good friends and a strong connection to the community. (See my co-blogger Joan’s blog on Thread Count.) In his TedTalk researcher/psychiatrist Waldinger gives some good advise on how to forge and sustain these connections.
I guess we can’t completely scrap those 7 steps, because we need a good positive attitude to be pleasant enough to make people want to be around us to form meaningful relationships with us. We have to leave our electronic relationships behind, and risk getting hurt. Relationships are messy. Most involve some work to keep them going, as well as giving of ourselves. But the payoff is substantiated by the Grant Study: love and be loved to live longer and be happier.
I want a New Drug . . . One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you.” – Huey Lewis and THE NEWS
By the way, the cost of the study — millions and millions of taxpayer dollars. But maybe it was worth it to find that just like Dorothy in the WIZARD OF OZ; the key to happiness was in our pockets this whole time.
© Jane F. Collen March 8, 2016
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