A Harvard study has been following 268 men, who were students there in 1938, until now (they’re in their nineties). The most import finding according to the study’s director, “…points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop.”
It’s the longest-running human development study ever looking for what contributes most strongly to us flourishing. The study tracked psychological, anthropological and physical traits, as well as family relationships.
George Vallant, the study’s director for the last 30 years released a book in 2012 called “Triumphs of Experience.”
It sounds like our lives evolve as we age and are often more satisfying in our later years.
Here’re some of the study’s findings:
– Men doing well in old age didn’t necessarily do as well in midlife, and vice versa.
– The memories of a happy childhood are a source of strength in our later years. But recovery from a bad childhood is also possible.
– Marriages bring much more contentment after age 70.
– The men’s physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50. Growing old with grace and vitality, can be attributed more to yourself than your genetic makeup.
– Cigarette smoking and alcoholism was the greatest cause of morbidity and death.
– Alcoholism was strongly coupled with neurosis and depression, which most often followed alcohol abuse, rather than preceding it. Alcoholism had great destructive power, being by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness and the single strongest cause of divorce.
– There’s a strong correlation between the warmth of relationships and the men’s health and happiness in later years.
– Political ideology had no bearing on overall life satisfaction. But the most conservative men on average shut down their sex lives around age 68, while the most liberal men had healthy sex lives well into their 80s.
– There was no noticeable difference in maximum income earned by men with lower or higher IQs (at Harvard).
– The men scoring the highest on the measurements of “warm relationships” earned more during their peak salaries years than the men who scored the lowest. Men who had ‘warm’ childhood relationships with their mothers made more per year than the men with uncaring mothers.
– Warm childhood relationships with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety and increased ‘life satisfaction’ at age 75, while warm childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.
Those are some of the study’s findings I thought were interesting. Check it out.