According to a recent eye-opening report, nearly 50% of people have not been genuinely happy for two years. 

But what is true happiness? Is it brought by money or meaningful careers? Is it even achievable? We’ll unpack all that in this blog.

It will explore what happiness and health mean to people from various demographics.  The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the most extended study ever done on humans, backs this study. 

This research began in 1938 and is 86 years old as of 2024. Its director, Robert Waldinger, is still alive and overseeing it. This one-of-a-kind study started by tracking 724 men comprising Harvard graduates and boys from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Boston.

It kicked off by interviewing the boys and their families. Researchers also had them undergo medical exams to determine their health status. 

Over time, they grew up, became parents, got married, divorced, and widowed. Their careers also took different paths. Some got into low-paying jobs like brick-laying and factory jobs. Others went to medical school and became doctors; one even became a US president. 

The group also developed different health challenges along the way, like schizophrenia and alcoholism. 

Over the years, the research has continued focusing on their health, work, and home lives. The original number of participants shrunk due to inevitable circumstances like death or inability to continue due to sickness or other reasons.

The good news is that some respondents are still alive and in their 90s. They continue to take part in this fantastic study. In addition, the lead researcher was interested in seeing this research through and did not drop it along the way. 

As of 2024, the research has incorporated about 1,300 descendants of the initial group and added women along the way to make it more gender-balanced. 

To date, the researchers regularly send questionnaires to interview participants. They also:

  • Get the participants’ medical records 
  • Video record them sharing concerns about their wives
  • Interview their kids
  • Conduct brain scans

What are the findings of the study? What is the big secret? Based on this research, there are two secrets to flourishing and living more fulfilling lives.

Participants who cared for their health throughout the study were happy and lived longer than their counterparts who did not. 

Science proves this. Eating healthily and exercising regularly makes you less likely to get sick. This means you will be less worried and depressed about your health. 

The second discovery was that people who maintain good, healthy relationships with others are also happier. This is because they are not isolated, and warm connections with other human beings make their lives more fulfilling.

On the other hand, those who work long hours with no time for family or friends are the unhappiest. 

Want to Be Happier? 

It’s true what they say. Money doesn’t buy happiness. According to Robert Waldinger’s The Harvard Study of Adult Development, building healthy relationships with others and caring for our health are what make us happy. 

So go out there, make meaningful connections with others, and remember to look after your health!