What Makes a Great Life? 3 Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

These lessons are essential for anyone looking for long-term happiness and an indication of how relationships help us remain healthy.
What Makes a Great Life? 3 Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

Happiness is one of the most studied topics globally, yet so many people are unclear about what makes a good life. Some of the best studies on joy are some of the longest conducted experiments of all time.

One of them even includes the Harvard Study of Adult Development, where more than 724 men were tracked over 75 years. The results of this study are essential to understanding what makes a great life and why our relationships matter.

Understanding the Study

Over 75 years since the 1930s, 724 men were tracked by the Harvard Study of Adult Development. From around 1938 until now, they were all studied and questioned, and only 19 of them are still alive today! Even one of them that participated was former President John F. Kennedy.

The study focused on six specific factors: physical activity, no alcohol or smoking, maturity, healthy weight, stable marriage. These were all seen as significant at the time. However, there are some important implications for what they discovered over the years.

Why Good Relationships Keep Us Happier and Healthier

While it might seem like a good and necessary message, this was the final result of the study: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. It’s simple! Out of all of the factors studied, the most important was the quality of one’s relationships.

Three lessons were most distinct from this study. These lessons are essential for anyone looking for long-term happiness and an indication of how relationships help us remain healthy.

Lesson 1: Social Connections Are Good, Loneliness Kills

Our relationships can help us in ways that we don’t expect. Our relationships help define our lives, our degree of happiness, and whether or not we feel lonely. Conversely, loneliness can degrade our joy to the point of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

The more we associate and connect with others, the less likely we will develop depression and other health concerns.

Lesson 2: Quality, Not Quantity

Everyone has heard this all the time, but it is true: it is not about how many friends you have, but it’s about how great the people you hang out with are. If you find yourself hanging out with lots of people but feeling lonely, it is just as bad as being without friends.

Focus on the quality of your relationships. It is far better to have one or two friends to call and trust than to have twenty friends you wouldn’t trust with your most complex life challenges. For this reason, find good quality people, and you will never be questioning if you have enough friends in your life or if your life could be happier.

Lesson 3: Good Relationships Protect Our Brains

Did you know that the better your relationships are, the healthier your brain will become? It’s true! Your relationships help you maintain healthy processes in your brain. Over several years, you will find that your brain health remains consistent, giving you improved health on top of the promise of good mental health just from good associations.

Last Thoughts on Relationships and Happiness

These lessons indicate that we should all be focusing more on the health of our relationships and who we associate with. After all, if it improves our mood and brains, what more could we possibly ask for? It’s enough to show us how important this is to our lives and happiness.

More than our relationships and the quality we find in our friendships, it is also about finding more time to really spend with your loved ones. It is not enough just to have digital time and connect with people on social media.
Find more time to spend in person with your loved ones, and you will see the effects!

We hope you learned a lot about happiness, and we hope you take these lessons with you as you focus more on maintaining high-quality and beneficial relationships in your life!

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