What Makes Us Happy: 76 Years Of Research

What makes us happy: 76 years of research

In 1938, Harvard University (USA) began a project called “Adult Development Research”. Its primary goal was to find out what makes us happy. The research is still ongoing and is one of the most comprehensive studies in this topic.

The study was started in collaboration with 700 young men. Some of them enjoyed pleasant social status, while some were lower class from Boston. Researchers followed them throughout their lives to critique their happiness-seeking process, and what it felt like when they found it.

Currently, the study includes more than 1,000 men as well as women, some of whom are children of first-generation volunteers. The current director of the study is psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who is also a Zen master.

Based on the conclusions drawn during the 76 years of research, Professor Waldinger outlined what could be called a “good life”. Research shows us what really makes people (or at least most) happy. Let’s take a closer look at the findings.

Quality relationships make us happy

One of the main conclusions of this study regarding adult development is that people are genuinely happy when they have quality interpersonal relationships. “What we’ve noticed is that in this case, the people who are most happy with their relationships and connections with other people, then their bodies and minds stay healthier for longer,” said Waldinger.

girls and starbursts

When defining what is included in a quality human relationship, the professor says that it refers to a human relationship where you can trust another, and where you can be yourself. In other words, you don’t feel condemned and you know you can trust another in almost any situation. This type of connection can be with a romantic partner, family member, or friend.

Money and fame are an eye-opener

In a few cases, researchers have conducted surveys on the concept of happiness. Participants in the study, as well as some who did not, participated in the survey. The survey asked what would make them happy. 80% of respondents said they would be happier if they had more money, and 50% were confident that celebrity would make them happy. When the results were analyzed after an improvement in the financial situation or an increase in success, the researchers found that the assumptions of the respondents when answering the questionnaire were incorrect.

woman with lace mask

Everything seems to suggest that money and reputation act as some kind of eyelid in our minds. We can conclude that those who think this way cannot admit that they are really looking for acceptance, respect, and follow. Without understanding it, they assume money and fame will lead to more meaningful relationships.

This means that we subconsciously believe that if we had more money or fame, we would be more valued in the eyes of others. That’s not true. Reputation and money create new connections, but most of the time they are not genuine. They are not based on genuine respect for another person. Many are looking for the rich and famous to benefit from them, and not because they would genuinely care about them.

If we already have the answers, why aren’t we happier?

Harvard research has found the answer to the question of how to be happy, and the answer is very simple. But that leads to another question: we now have the answer, so why are so many people unhappy? Isn’t it enough that we invest more time and effort into our relationships to live a better life? And herein lies the problem.

Making quality relationships is not that simple. It is not easy because it requires us to have certain values ​​and virtues that do not automatically come served on a silver plate. Building strong relationships requires generosity, kindness, patience, and intimacy.

woman blowing gold grills

The most important thing in life is not to find “special people” with whom we can create a great bond. The most important thing is to be awesome in our own relationships. That is the foundation of a good connection.

However, the outcome of the 76-year-old Harvard study is very simple: we all want to be loved. This would be synonymous with happiness. But we are not always able to build genuine and loving relationships because we have not personally developed the skill of giving love.

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