In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the number one secret to happiness and health as discovered by a 75-year study by Harvard on happiness.
First a quick update:
“Are you a toxic friend? Do you Affect or Infect people?”
What happens when a happy person gets together with an unhappy person? The unhappy person will eventually bring the happy person down because it takes twice as much energy to lift someone as it does to drag someone down. https://patrickwanis.com/blog/are-you-toxic-friend-do-you-affect-or-infect-people/
“6 different kinds of love & passion”
You may have heard of the reference to Unconditional Love; does that mean that there are other types of love? Is the love for your brother or sister the same as the love for your romantic partner or soul mate? Watch the video
Now, let’s talk about the number one secret to happiness and health as discovered by a 75-year study by Harvard on happiness.
No matter which way it is expressed, everyone’s ultimate goal is happiness. Some people believe that either fame or fortune or power or beauty or youth will achieve that goal and bring about happiness. Others believe that travel, independence, career success or some other objective will bring about happiness.
In fact, in a survey of millennials asking them to list their most important life goals, 80% said a major life goal is to get rich, and 50% of the same group said another major life goal is to become famous.
And yet, neither fame nor fortune brings happiness.
What then, is the secret to happiness?
In 1938, Harvard College began to unlock the key to a long and happy life by tracking the lives of two groups of teenagers and followed them for 75 years. The Harvard Study of Adult Development began by following 268 Harvard sophomores and 456 12 to 16-year-old boys who grew up in the poorest areas of Boston, and from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families. The study included 4 generation social histories, interviewing participants in their living rooms; obtaining medical records from their doctors, drawing their blood, scanning their brains, talking to their children and videotaping them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns. The study also focused on the controllable factors of healthy aging (the choice to smoke, abuse alcohol, exercise, and keep weight down) and the uncontrollable (parents’ social class, early family stability, or ancestors’ longevity.)
And yes, the study began with men, and in 2005 it began to include the men’s wives as well.
What did the researchers discover after more than 75 years of studying happiness?
The one secret to happiness and health is good relationships.
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” – Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development
What is “good relationships”?
Close relationships with low conflict, whereby each partner feels supported and feels he/she can be counted on.
Here are the 3 big lessons about relationships from the Harvard Study of Adult Development
1. Social connections beneficial; loneliness kills
Social connections are truly beneficial and loneliness is toxic and it kills. People who are more socially connected to family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people who are less well connected. Loneliness and isolation result in early decline in health, a decline in brain functioning and a shorter life span.
2. Quality matters – affection and low-conflict
The quality of the relationship is critical. Relationships with conflict are really damaging to health. High-conflict marriages without much affection are very bad for health, while good, warm relationships are protective.
“More recently, the study’s aging subjects have shown that one’s situation at age 50 has more to do with one’s health and happiness at 70 than what happened earlier in life. And surprisingly, the quality of vacations younger in life — a measure of the ability to play — is a better indicator of late-life happiness than income.” – Harvard Gazette, 2012
Good, close and strong relationships ease pain and help to maintain positive moods. “Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.”
3. Good relationships protect our bodies and they protect our brains
The ability and sense that you can count on your partner for support when things get tough or in times of need also has added health benefits: people’s memories stay sharper longer while the opposite is also true – people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on their partner are the people who experience earlier memory decline.
The sense of security and attachment contributes to emotional health and brain health. Octogenarian couples in the study “could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”
“The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults really believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life. But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.”
It is easy to attempt to discard or discredit this 75-year study because it is primarily based on the study of men and possibly the majority of them might have been white. However, what most research reveals is that we are social creatures and we need to connect, build relationships, bonds and attachments regardless of our gender, race, nationality or culture.
“The good life is built with good relationships.”
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.