What’s the secret to happiness? A quick search on Google will yield over 7.5 million results – with no conclusive answer.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where you can ponder over what makes life ‘fulfilling’.
One group of researchers, however, have come to an interesting conclusion. US-based Harvard University’s Grant and Glueck studies tracked 724 participants from diverse backgrounds over a period of 80 years.
According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development website, the research involved only men – nearly half were Harvard students, and the other half were from the inner-city areas of Boston, US. When the initial study began, the men were mostly in their teenage years, and underwent physical examinations, somatotyping and home interviews about their medical histories.
Then, every two years, they completed questionnaires about their physical and mental health, marital quality, career, or retirement, and other socio-personal aspects of their lives. Every five years, their health information was collected and assessed by physicians. And every 10 years, the men underwent in-depth interviews about their relationships, careers and adjustment to ageing.
Having concluded the study, the Harvard researchers are now beginning a second-generation study, where they are studying the lives of the children of the original participants.
So, what did this massive undertaking reveal? What truly is the secret to happiness?
It all boils down to this, according to the study researchers: good relationships keep people happier and healthier. And it isn’t just about knowing a lot of people – quality trumps quantity. The study found that participants who felt they had truly lived fulfilled lives maintained genuine connections with the people around them.
One way of doing this, according to a report in US-based news website Medium, is through positive alacrity – a skill whereby a person is able to create micro-experiences that cause others to feel uplifted. And the best way of honing this skill is by mastering the habit of intentional positivity. In other words, if you think of something positive about someone, voice it.
A simple thank you note voicing appreciation for your wife, an email acknowledging your colleague’s hard work, or a thoughtful gift for a friend who is going through a rough patch, are all ways to uplift someone and build a genuine connection that is likely to outlast good and bad times.