Overall Happiness Coming from Strong, Interpersonal Relationships
This brings me to the second study I took a look at from Harvard. They tracked the same group of men for 80 years. Basically, from 1938, they’ve been meeting with the same group of men every two years. Half of the people that they met with were from the inner-city, with very low income and not many socio-economic advantages, and the other half were Harvard students. So, every two years they would ask this group about their physical and emotional health, employment, family, and friends.
What they ended up finding was that it wasn’t money or status that determined a good life. The people that were the happiest and the healthiest stated that it was strong, interpersonal relationships that made them feel better. The people that were isolated were the ones that declined in mental and physical health.
So a deep set of personal relationships is actually what led to happiness — and everybody could have that right now. The ability to have great relationships is already there for you!
Here's a link to the full study: Grant Study of Adult Development, 1938-2000
George E. Vaillant was asked, “Ultimately, over 80 years, what did you learn from this study?” And he said, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” So I want you guys to think about that — relationships with other people equate to happiness.
There’s a great Ted Talk with 18 million views about this study as well: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.