A 75-year Pursuit of Happiness

Today we have made a few navigation updates at Levelnaut website – new categories and subcategories were done, a lot of new courses were added. Soon we will add some new sport, psychology and programming languages courses category and many other new things. Followers and participants of LEENjoy project got a new text instruction and now it is the turn of people, who haven’t got anything positive yet.

We want to share some very interesting and motivating information from School of Positive Transformation and hope you will like it.

Positive Psychology Program – A 75-year Pursuit of Happiness: What were the findings about happiness?

There was an actual study that looked into what truly make a happy and fulfiling life, and to make sure of the accuracy of its conclssions. It was done for 80 years now!

The only catch with the study was that it only involved males. This research is known as the Harvard Grant and Glueck study. Two populations were involved: 268 male graduates from Harvard’s 1939-1944 (the Glueck study) and 456 underprivileged men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study). The study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of the two populations.

The extensive research was made possible by multiple generations of researchers, which followed the populations from before WWII (1939) by analyzing blood samples, brain scans, self-reported surveys, and actual interactions to collect their findings.

Let’s find out the conclusions of these studies.

The critical factor for happiness
The Grant study was directed for decades by George Vaillant, a Harvard psychiatrist, and wrote about the findings in his books. Now the Grant study runs together with the Glueck study and both are now under the Harvard Study of Adult Development, directed by Robert Waldinger.

Both Vaillant and Waldinger agree that having meaningful relationships is the key to be happier and healthier.

Role of love in happiness

Love is the foundation of the two pillars of meaningful relationships (which turn into happiness). As Vaillant puts it, these two pillars are: love and “coping with life that does not push love away.”

By directing the study for decades, Vaillant was able to conclude that no matter how successful a person is with their career, money and physical health, it is only when they have supportive, loving relationships, that they can be truly happy.

Greater Money and Power isn’t parallel to Greater Happiness
Money and traditional career success does not easily correlate to happiness, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. These two can be viewed as smaller parts of a greater perspective, that while they render are important for daily living, their importance are minute when life is viewed at a bigger context.

Contentment holds everything together
Vaillant noted that those in their 70s had a different notion of contentment in life. It was never about parental social class or their income. People found greater sense of achievement when they are content at their work.

How you started cannot define where you’re going or how you’ll end
A respondent in the study went by Godfrey Minot Camille’s name who started as having the lowest satisfaction rate in his life. He did not see himself having future stability and had previous attempts to end his life. But even with those, he still ended up as one of the happiest. How?

Valliant explained that Godfrey “spent his life searching for love.” This was a defining proof that showed that anyone could be happy in their lives no matter how they started. Godfrey’s career only flourished later on in his life and when he had his family.

This is a part of his interview:

“My professional life hasn’t been disappointing—far from it—but the truly gratifying unfolding has been into the person I’ve slowly become: comfortable, joyful, connected, and effective. Since it wasn’t widely available then, I hadn’t read that children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, which tells how connectedness is something we must let happen to us, and then we become solid and whole.

As that tale recounts tenderly, only love can make us real. I denied this in boyhood for reasons I now understand. It took me years to tap substitute sources. What seems marvelous is how many there are and how restorative they prove. What durable and pliable creatures we are, and what a storehouse of goodwill lurks in the social fabric. . . I never dreamed my later years would be so stimulating and rewarding.”

Create Connections
Vaillant mentioned that it’s great to expand your connection in the different areas of your life because they found that the study found strong relationships were vital for life satisfaction career satisfaction than making money or achieving traditional success.

He noted that the study’s conclusions showed no medical assurance but instead offered psychological benefits of creating connections. The Grant Study offers strong support for the growing number of researches linking social connection with longevity, lower stress levels, and better overall well-being.

Learning from Setbacks makes you Happier
Vaillant emphasized that learning how to deal with challenges is a big part of our journey from immaturity and maturity. That it is a shift from narcissism to connection. Our change in our coping mechanism is how we can make “gold out of shit”.

Vaillant mentioned that as we replace our old self’s narcissism (our single-minded focus on our emotional shifts and perceived problems), we can start creating real connections that matter with mature coping defenses. He cited Mother Teresa and Beethoven as examples.

Mother Teresa’s terrible childhood and challenging spiritual life, but she continued caring for other people (even extending to those who are not bound by the faith she was serving). Beethoven on the other hand dealt with misery by creating a connection to others through his art, his genius in music.

Depth not numbers

It’s not about how many friends you have, but how many of them truly matter.

Waldinger mentioned the importance of quality over quantity.

What that means is: It doesn’t matter if you have a massive group of friends or if you believe that you have a “perfect” romantic relationship. It’s the value of the relationships–how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you indeed are and truthfully see another.

This is an excellent reminder to prioritize connection and your capability to process emotions and stress. If ever you’re struggling, try to get a good therapist. Join a support group or find a workshop. Get a grief counselor.

Take personal growth truly, so you are available for connection.

“Relationships are messy, and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger but he insists that “The good life is built with good relationships.”

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