Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

We are all searching for happiness.
• But how do we achieve it?
• What are its greatest determinants?

The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the most comprehensive study ever conducted, as it followed its participants for their entire adult lives.
- The study was started in Boston in 1938 and has already covered three generations: grandparents, parents, and children, who are now considered "baby boomers."
- It analyzed more than 2000 people throughout 85 years of longitudinal study, the longest study of happiness.

In January, Robert Waldinger, MD, the current director of this incredible study, published the book The Good Life: Lessons From the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, co-authored with the study's associate director, Marc Schulz, PhD.

By following this large population for more than eight decades, the study uncovered the factors most correlated with well-being and happiness. Here, I have summarized some of the authors' main concepts.

Most Important Factors

The study's happiest participants had two major factors in common throughout its 85 years: taking care of their health and building loving relationships with others.

It seems obvious that being in good health is essential to live well.
- However, to some surprise, researchers determined that good relationships were the most significant predictor of health and happiness during aging. Other authors have confirmed this finding, and research has sought to analyze the physiological mechanisms associated with this benefit.

Professional Success Insufficient

Professional success on its own does not guarantee happiness, even though it may be gratifying.
- The study revealed that those who were happiest were not isolated.
- In fact, the happiest people valued and fostered relationships.
- Levels of education and cultural awareness, which tend to be higher among those with higher salaries, were also important factors for adopting healthy habits (promoted more often as of the 1960s) and for better access to healthcare.

Social Skills

Loneliness is increasingly common and creates challenges when dealing with stressful situations.

- It is essential to have someone with whom we can vent. Therefore, Waldinger recommends assessing how to foster, strengthen, and broaden relationships.     - He calls this maintaining social connections and, just as with physical fitness, it also requires constant practice. Friendships and relationships need regular commitment to keep them from fizzling out.
- A simple telephone call can help.
- Participating in activities that bring joy and encourage camaraderie, such as sports, hobbies, and volunteer work, may broaden the relationship network.

Happiness Not Constant

Social media almost always shows the positive side of people's lives and suggests that everyone lives worry-free.
- However, the truth is that no one's life is free of difficulties and challenges. Social skills contribute to resilience.

It is never too late for a turnaround and for people to change their lives through new relationships and experiences. Those who think they know everything about life are very mistaken.
- The study showed that good things happened to those who had given up on changing their situation, and good news appeared when they least expected it.

This study highlights the importance of having social skills and always cultivating our relationships to help us become healthier, overcome challenging moments, and achieve the happiness that we all desire.

We finally have robust evidence-based data to use when speaking on happiness. 

From www.medscape.com

www red DiabetologNytt


The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness Hardcover. January 10, 2023

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What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? In their “captivating” (The Wall Street Journal) book, the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, show that the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize.

What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? The simple but surprising answer is: relationships.
- The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and healthier lives.
- In fact, the Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that the strength of our connections with others can predict the health of both our bodies and our brains as we go through life.

The invaluable insights in this book emerge from the revealing personal stories of hundreds of participants in the Harvard Study as they were followed year after year for their entire adult lives, and this wisdom was bolstered by research findings from many other studies.
- Relationships in all their forms—friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups—all contribute to a happier, healthier life.
- And as The Good Life shows us, it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you already have, and never too late to build new ones. The Good Life provides examples of how to do this.

Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk about the Harvard Study, “What Makes a Good Life,” has been viewed more than 42 million times

and is one of the ten most-watched TED talks ever.

The Good Lifehas been praised by bestselling authors Jay Shetty “an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection”), Angela Duckworth (“In a crowded field of life advice...Schulz and Waldinger stand apart”), and happiness expert Laurie Santos (“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful”).

With “insightful [and] interesting” (Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness) life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.