A glimpse into the longest study ever conducted on happiness and living a fulfilling life.
The world we live in has become tough to balance, and priorities have shifted. It can be mindboggling when deciding what to rank as significant nowadays. In today’s world, it is prodigious when it comes to deciding upon whether a career is more important than your relationships.
In order to test this theory, a 75-year old study was conducted at Harvard. The Grant and Glueck study has traced the perceptual and corporal health and well-being of two different groups.
The first group of participants are 456 poor men who grew up in Boston in the time span of 1939-2014. This is referred to as the Grant Study.
On the other hand, the Glueck Study involved 268 male graduates from Harvard in the period from 1939-1944.
Consequently, because the research was quite long, it was essential that many generations of participants be included. Due to the fact that this included the pre-WWII period, brain scans were piloted, blood samples were carefully examined, real-life communications were conducted and self-reported assessments were portrayed.
The director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, Robert Waldinger stated the outcome:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
This does not include how much money you have in your bank account, how many figures you are making a year, how many visitors and followers you have on social media, how many events you have hosted or spoke at, and it certainly does not include how many companies you have worked at or invested in. Shocked yet?
Putting it in plain, simple English: the chief conjecturer of your well-being and happiness in life is love. To be more precise, the study determines that having someone in your life you can count on not only helps your nervous system work well, it also minimizes your corporeal as well as your perceptual pain, while helping your brain stay in healthier condition.
The study conducted proved that lonely individuals tend to die younger and have a more deteriorated physical health.
Waldinger stated that the whole theory lies in the quality of your relationships, not the quantity. He even stated that being in a committed relationship is not enough unless you find it completely fulfilling.
What Waldinger meant was that although you may have a big group of friend and acquaintances, whether you are always out and about or you have the best-committed partner there is out there.
This is not what matters, but rather the quality of that relationship and the rest of your relationships in general. And when you have deep and meaningful relationships, they open you up to getting hurt. However, this is how we grow. How vulnerable you are with someone explains your relationship with them.
According to the psychiatrist from Harvard who lead the study from 1972 to 2004, George Vaillant, there are two initial fundamentals to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”
Ergo, if have been lucky enough to find love, but you experience a distress and you fail to find a way to cope with the experience, you may end up handling the situation in such a way that it does not allow you to let love in.
Apart from the obvious positive impact, it is also an excellent cue that we must select the way we choose to process certain feelings and pressure. Should you be feeling under the weather or are distressed, talk to someone or join a group. Begin the initiative to grow as an individual in order to be able to cope and partake a healthy relationship.
All of the proof in the world shows that even though you may have all of the financial stabilities in the world, it will not make you happy. You may have an efficacious profession and successful livelihood, be in excellent bodily well-being, but without healthy and devoted relationships and connections, you will not be content.
Therefore, in the future, if you catch yourself not being completely present in every situation and discussion you are involved in, stop. If you find that instead of spending time with the people you love, you would rather spend endless hours at the office, something is off. If you catch yourself doing anything else that can be left for later instead of strengthening your relationships, stop.
As Waldinger puts it, although relationships can be complicated and messy, they are worth it. If you want to live a good life, work on your relationships. This is the ultimate path to a happy and fulfilling life.