World Happiness Day: What really constitutes towards happiness?

This TED Talk by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger is one of the best ones around for you to understand what really contributes towards leading a happy life!

Waldinger is the fourth Director of The Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is possibly the longest, most exhaustive, and most comprehensive study of adult life that has ever been done. As part of the study, the lives of over 700 individuals have been tracked since 1938 for over 75 years to get to conclusions about what constitutes towards happiness.

Two sets of individuals were studied for this research. The first started off the study when they were a group of sophomores from Harvard University, who finished college during World War II. The second were boys from Boston’s most impoverished neighborhoods and disadvantaged families. They were chosen as subjects for the study because of their underprivileged backgrounds.

When the study started off, these subjects were teenagers. And the researchers studied them exhaustively. Interestingly, it was just not the subjects that were studied – their medical tests were conducted and their families were also interviewed.

These men were studied comprehensively and every two years across their entire lifetimes, they were given questionnaires to answer about their lives. However, it is important to note that they were not just interviewed. Their medical records, brain scans, blood samples were also checked thoroughly. Further, their personal lives were also scrutinized for the study; for instance, how they had intimate conversations with their family members was also part of this study.

And the one overarching message that the researchers derived from their meticulous analysis is this: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

There were three other major findings of the study. Here they are:

The study conclusively drew that people who were socially well connected to their friends, family, and community were happier and healthier than the others. On the other hand, people that were more isolated than they wanted to had a poorer quality o life and lived shorter lives than the others.

Another finding of the study was that it was not the number or quantity of social relationships but rather their quality that contributed to happiness and healthy lives. Living with relationships that involve conflict and distrust is detrimental to health whereas living in protective relationships is very conducive to happiness and health.

Being in a securely attached relationship, in which one feels that one can count on one’s partner, helps you keep your memory intact in your old age.

Aren’t these some great findings that reinforce that money, fame, and wealth are not as important to your overall well being as family, friends, and warm relationships. Work on your relationships and stay happy!

Happy World Happiness Day, folks! Wishing you all the happiness, today and always.

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