The longest and most comprehensive study on happiness comes from Harvard University. Researchers have followed two groups of men (and their families) since 1938, routinely interviewing them about their work, home life, and health. The first group consisted of Harvard graduates, while the second group consisted of young men from troubled families in impoverished sections of Boston. A small percentage of the original subjects are still alive, and researchers continue to study the children of those who have passed away.
What researchers found was that graduating from Harvard and securing a good job didn’t guarantee happiness. And struggling through poverty didn’t portend misery. The three main lessons that have come out of the study have nothing to do with money and everything to do with human connection.
Explaining the study's findings, researcher Robert Waldinger recorded his TED talk, titled “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness,” in 2015, and it has been viewed 44,000,000 times(!!).
He explains: "We've learned three big lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they're physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.
And we know that you can be lonely in a crowd and you can be lonely in a marriage, so the second big lesson that we learned is that it's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationships that matters."
Makes sense to us! Again and again, when humans are observed and probed and quizzed on what makes them feel love, the answer always seems to be - other people. Not things, or even experiences, but our connections with other people.
Ok so - how do you make connections? Check out our comprehensive guides here, and let us know how you get on!