A Life Full of Happiness and Health
For most people, these are the two factors that make a fulfilling life. Although different people have different sources of happiness, science has found out that it all comes down to one mutual key.
In a study gathered by Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study, for over 75 years, researchers tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939–1944 (the Glueck study).
Throughout the years of researching, different generations of researchers were able to analyze blood samples, brain scans, surveys and have interacted with the volunteers even before WWII. For multiple decades, they compiled the all the data they got to discover one thing.
According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one factor stood out as the most important than the rest,
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Love Leads to a Fulfilling Life
According to the results, it’s not how many conferences you led or spoke at. It’s not about how many blog posts you’ve written, or how many followers you had, nor it’s not about how many companies you worked at, or how great the power you’ve successfully wielded.
The research says, the largest contributor of one’s happiness and fulfillment in life is simply, love.
The study showed that having someone you can rely on helps the brain to relax, it makes a healthy nervous system for long years, and it reduces physical and emotional pain.
Results also stated that people who are lonely are more likely to have declining physical health at an earlier age, and they die younger.
“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
What Waldinger meant is that it doesn’t matter if you have a large circle of friends, and you go out every week. Neither if you are in a ‘perfect’ relationship, if that exists. Quality relationships are measured by the level of vulnerability and depth that you’re sharing with other people. It’s how safe it is to share with one another. It’s the extent to which you can relax and be yourself for how you truly are, and how you truly see another.
According to the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, George Vaillant, there are two foundations of quality relationships: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”
Therefore, if you found love in a form of a relationship, but you have undergone a trauma like losing a job, losing a child, or losing a parent, and you don’t do anything to deal with the trauma, you will end up pushing love away.
The results of study remind us that a fulfilling life isn’t only about having good connections, but also how we process emotions and how we manage stress. Thus, if you’re suffering from a trauma, you must get a good therapist, join a support group, or invest in a workshop. For you to be able to build good connections, you must first take your personal growth seriously.
Loving Relations are Key
It could be very cliché to say, but despite all the money, success, and good health that you have, if you don’t have loving relationships, you will not be happy.
With this study, we now know what to prioritize — that’s to spend time with your loved one, and be present at the table instead of scrolling down on Facebook. It’s getting together with close friends, instead of spending more hours at the office. It’s spending the weekend with the family, instead of catching yourself working. It’s always making the right choice towards a fulfilling life.
“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment:
“The good life is built with good relationships.”
Have a look at what motivational public speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy has to say on this subject.