Happy Labor Day!
As we take some time to celebrate this annual holiday with friends and family, allow me to pose a question…
Are you happy?
Because in my view, I think the search for happiness may have peaked. The post-pandemic atmosphere is palpable with people trying to grasp at what they think they missed out on during those dark years…
But are all of those material things—homes, cars, vacations, and more—the key to TRUE happiness?
Let’s take a look…
Two major factors
I’m certainly not a psychologist. And I’m not an expert in psychological issues. But the experts at Harvard may be able to offer us some insight into this conversation…
According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, there are TWO major factors that contribute to happiness.
But, before I tell you what they were, let me reiterate the importance of this study…
It followed participants for their entire adult lives, starting in 1938, and researchers recently included spouses and descendent of the original participants. (This means data came from up to three generations… grandparents, parents, and children.)
In fact, researchers analyzed more than 2,000 people throughout 85 years of this longitudinal study, which is quite rare in clinical trials.
And, well, after more than eight decades, here’s what they found…
The keys to happiness included making health a priority and building loving relationships with others.
But the latter seems MOST significant…
Build a support system
Now, most factors here seem obvious. I mean, in order to live well, you must be in good health.
Plus, other studies have alluded to the importance of maintaining a good social circle. (After all, loneliness steals health and happiness).
But these researchers suggest nurturing those relationships is the most significant predictor of health and happiness of all. In other words, it’s all about your support system.
While certain things may feel gratifying, like professional success, they don’t guarantee happiness.
And this study reiterated how those who felt happiest were NOT alone or isolated. Rather, they valued and fostered relationships.
Of course, feelings of loneliness are increasingly common, especially nowadays. And it can pose big challenges when dealing with stressful situations especially. (We ALL need someone to whom we can vent.)
The good news is, it’s never too late for people to build new (or rebuild old) relationships.
And as I’ve mentioned before, there are many ways to build your social circle. Consider video-chatting with friends and family. Joining a book club. Getting a pet. Or taking up a new hobby that bring joy and encourage camaraderie, like sports or volunteer work.
Even a simple telephone call, or finding a pen pal, can help.
“WHAT THE LONGEST STUDY ON HUMAN HAPPINESS FOUND IS THE KEY TO A GOOD LIFE.” The Atlantic, 01/19/2023. (theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/01/harvard-happiness-study-relationships/672753/)