Money Can’t Buy Happiness
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but how many unhappy rich people do you know? The Higher Education Research Institute asked millennials if they agree with the adage, and close to three quarters said that they disagreed. When it comes to the root of happiness, Harvard researchers began a study back in 1938 that suggests that the path to happiness is close to home.
Harvard Study of Adult Development
The study started a long time ago. The psychologists started studying teenagers because they needed long-term observations. They followed their teenage subjects well into their golden years. It’s impressive that the study was able to continue because people dropped out of the study, passed away, or the number of volunteers dwindled. With all of this going on, Harvard was still able to get an impressive amount of data.
Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist and Zen priest. He is also the project’s fourth director. In 2015, he discussed the team’s findings in a TED talk. It was uploaded to YouTube and reached over 27 million views. If you have ever wondered what the answer to living a long and happy life is, Robert may be able to answer that question for you.
Many variables were considered during the study. The team explored what aspects of childhood and adult experiences could predict the quality of intimate relationships later in life. They also studied how late-life marriages are linked to good health and well-being.
The first group of people in the study were all men. They were made up of 268 male sophomore students at Harvard University, and the group was called Grant Study. After college, many of the participants enlisted in World War II between 1939 and 1944. Because some of the participants were killed during the war or forgot about the study completely, it was a small group.
The Glueck Study
The second group was called the Glueck Study. There were 456 males who grew up poor in inner-city Boston. The boys came from lives of poverty, and many didn’t even have running water. The results from the first and second groups would be compared because the participants in the two groups had very different lives. The teenagers who entered the study were given medical exams. The researchers visited their homes and interviewed their parents. They charted the boys’ movements as they went on to become men and working different jobs. One of them even made it to the White House.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was part of the study. He wasn’t the only participant who went on to do great things. Ben Bradlee, the former editor of the Washington Post, was also in the study throughout his entire life.
Not every case was a success story. Other members became alcoholics and developed mental illnesses. Some climbed the social ladder all the way up; others went in the opposite direction. In 2017, there were 19 living Grant participants, and 40 living Glueck participants left. The study is still in full swing because since the original participants were brought on, the researchers have brought on the participants’ families, which brought the count to 1,300 participants. They even brought on the participant’s children as the second generation.
The results showed that keys like childhood relationships, familial bonds, and how children react to situations indicated how well-adjusted they would be as adults. They believe that they can use this information to predict future health and mental health issues. The last part of the results had to do with marriage. They believe that long-term relationships put the most significant amount of stress on a person’s life; therefore, late-life marriages are the healthiest.
Social connections are good, and loneliness kills. They say that to be healthy, and you need to be connected closely to your family and your community. We are social animals, and we need socialization to live long and happy lives. Harvard researchers say that if you meet these criteria, you’ll likely lead a long and happy life. If you are the type of person who enjoys being alone most of the time and you don’t have a large social circle, you may not have the healthiest and happiest life possible. You may think that being a loner works for you, but overall, it can have consequences later on in life. Even if it is just one or two family members or a friend from work, you need this kind of social interaction and someone caring for you if you are going to be happy. Now, the researchers are trying to prove their theory by studying the second-generation. Only time will tell if the results will be the same.