- On Good Things Utah this morning – If you could design a life full of happiness, what ingredients would you choose? Many people would fill it with lots of money, long vacations, a successful career, and a lifestyle of status, leisure and ease. But that leaves out the most important engine of happiness, the world’s longest scientific study on the subject has found. Most people aren’t aware of this true ingredient because our culture sells us messages that aren’t true, like “buy this thing and you’ll be happier,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He’s the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which began in 1938 with 724 participants and set out to discover what makes people thrive. Eighty-five years later, the study includes three generations and more than 1,300 descendants of the original participants. People have been followed from their teen years to old age, with researchers gathering everything from their exercise and drinking habits, to marital satisfaction and biggest worries.
- Researchers regularly collect their health records for markers of physical and mental well-being, and meet them face-to-face to observe their behavior and living conditions. Participants rate their lives by answering questionnaires that ask whether they’re happy, if their life is meaningful and if they have a reason to get up in the morning. They undergo brain scans, blood tests and checks of stress hormones. What did the healthiest and happiest participants have in common? The answers are distilled in Waldinger’s new book, “The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.” One factor stood out above everything else: Good relationships.
- So if you were to make one decision to best ensure your own health and happiness, it should be to cultivate warm relationships, Waldinger and his co-author write. We hope you join us as we dive into this Hot Topic and so much more this morning on GTU.
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