The key to happiness was uncovered in yet another study on the subject. MSN reports that the findings have nothing to do with money, fame, or success. Good health is also the result of what makes people happy.
What is the key to happiness? According to Harvard professor and psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the answer lies in relationships.
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” Waldinger said.
Two groups of multi-generational participants were studied at Harvard in the 1930s. One consisted of male Harvard students (which included John F. Kennedy, according to the New York Times), and the other were young boys from disadvantaged families living in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.
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Researchers performed brain scans, interviewed the individuals (and eventually their families), took blood analyses, and performed health exams. The study from over 75 years ago concluded that the key to happiness and health are all about relationships.
People who are more socially connected to others are happier not only in mind but physically. They also tend to live longer. Other takeaways in the research revealed that quality is over quantity when it comes to close relationships. Moreover, relationship satisfaction predicts future health.
Even a “good relationship” has its share of conflict, but trust, commitment, and respect are what make the difference.
Loneliness can be toxic because people who’re isolated are less happy, and their health pays the price sooner than later; brain function declines sooner, and they live shorter lives.
Waldinger urges people to depend on their relationships as much as their professional endeavors. It’s important to make friends in and out of work and to nurture your current relationships with friends, family, and significant others, no matter how difficult it can be.
“Relationships are messy and complicated; it’s not sexy or glamorous. But it’s life-long,” Waldinger said.
In a separate study published in the British Journal of Psychology, evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University conducted their own research on happiness. While the study also showed that one group in the study echoed the same results as the one Robert Waldinger came up with involving relationships, there was one in which “smart” people were happier without spending too much time with friends.
According to the Washington Post, there were two main findings in Kanazawa and Li’s research: People who live in more densely populated areas tend to be less happy and that socializing with close friends brings satisfaction.
There was on “outlier” group that studied people with higher IQs. They weren’t as bothered by living in crowded areas as their counterparts but were less happy the more time they spent with friends. Researchers attribute the findings to hunter-gatherer roots. Kanazawa and Li say that what made our ancestors happy holds true by modern-day standards.
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Brookings Institution researcher Carol Graham said it could simply be that higher-IQ individuals may be “focused on some other longer term objective,” meaning they’re gaining more satisfaction by working towards long-term goals than hanging out with friends.
The subject of happiness and the key to it will always be debated. What makes one person happy doesn’t apply to another person. There are fundamental needs each individual has and the key to his or her happiness is as varied as personality traits. The majority agree that money, fame, and success don’t necessarily amount to genuine happiness. While those elements serve as great tools to make life much easier, real happiness derives from a far deeper, personal level.
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