Study of Happiness

By Harvard University

In 1938 a group of Harvard scientist began a longitudinal study to try and find out what was it that made a happy healthy life by studying the health of 268 sophomores. The study became the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies on adult life to date.

Of the original recruits that included President John F. Kennedy, there are only a handful still alive. The original cohort only included men because at that point Harvard was an all male school. However, over the years researchers have expanded the study to include nearly 2000 people, include offspring of the original men as well as their wives and a group of inner city residents from Boston.

What have they studied? Researchers have been studying participant’s health trajectories and broader lives. Every two years they get in touch with the participants to see if they can send out another questionnaire. They have tracked the highs and lows, careers, marriages, social interactions and more. There have been some lessons that in today’s digital, fast paced and often lonely world are important to pay attention to.

In the current lead research for the study, Professor Robert Waldinger’s TEDx talk he said that recent research indicates that Millennial believe that fame and getting rich are the keys to happiness. The Harvard found something different. It found that close relationships more than fame or getting rich are the key to happiness and delaying mental and physical aging. Strong, quality relationships, having people you can count on and participating in real life relationships rather than digital ones is a stronger predictor that you are likely to have a long happy life then, IQ, genes or being rich or social rank.

“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.” In his TEDx talk he emphasises the importance of leaning into relationships.

The Harvard Study of Adult development that began found that the top 3 things that make for a happier life are;

1. the more socially connected you are the better and happier life you will live, loneliness kills. Lonely people are less happy, their brain function and health declines sooner.

2. quality not quantity of your relationships matters the most. So the number of Facebook friend or followers you have on Snapchat and Instagram won’t sustain you and ward off the mental and physical declines of age. The study found that quality relationships have a positive effect on our physical and mental ability to cope with pain.

3. Good relationships protect our brains as well as our bodies. When you have relationships where you can count on the other person, your memory stays sharper longer.

Living with Chronic illness can be isolating. However, there are ways you can build connections with people and ways you can lean into real life interactions and relationships. QENDO offers a couple of ways you can build relationships with others that live with endometriosis and lean into real life interactions and relationships and potentially improve you long term mental and physical health;

  1. If you are in QLD attend an EndoMeet.

  2. Volunteer with QENDO as a support worker (training provided) or at one of the events.

  3. If you want to talk to someone or to find resources, support groups or a group you can volunteer with in your area you can call the QENDO support line, leave a message and a support work will get back to you as soon as possible. (07) 3321 4408

The moral of the story? Seek out positive, healthy relationships and you'll live a longer, happier life. Volunteer and be the change you want to see in the world, you long term happiness, mental and physical health will thank you for it.

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