In 1938, a group of scientists at Harvard’s medical school decided to study the lives of 300 men from childhood until old age. They wanted to discover some of life’s most important questions: “… how we grow and change, what we value as time goes on, and what is likely to make us happy and fulfilled.”
With most of these men now in their 90’s, this research project, known as the Grant Study, has drawn significant conclusions about what it is that makes us truly happy.
Here are five lessons from the Grant Study that might help you live a happier and more meaningful life.
1) Love and relationships is what really matters
The study’s most significant finding is that the only thing that truly matters in life is relationships. You can have a successful career, money and good health, but without supportive, loving relationships, you wouldn’t be happy. As John Lennon once sang, “All you need is love.”
2) Money and Power will not make you happy
Having money and power does not correlate with happiness. Though money and success are an important part of life, they diminish in importance when viewed in the larger context of our lives. What matters more than money and power is that “you be content at your work.” That you do what you love or that you love what you do.
3) Your past regrets don’t determine your future happiness
One man named Godfrey Minot Camille, who went into the study feeling hopeless about the future after previously attempting suicide was one of the happiest by the end of his life. How could this be? He never gave up. In his own words, “I spent my life searching for love.”
4) Connection Is Crucial
Strong, meaningful connections with others are the biggest predictor of life satisfaction. As life goes on, our connections with others become more and more important resulting in greater longevity, lower stress levels and improved overall mental and emotional well-being. “Connection is joy,” the study concluded. The more connected you feel to others, the happier you will be.
5) Challenges and the lessons you learn from them can make you happy
“The capacity to make gold out of shit,” has a significant effect on your level of happiness. Mother Teresa had a terrible childhood, yet she had a highly fulfilling life by caring about others. Beethoven coped with misery through his connection with music when he wrote ‘Ode to Joy.’ How you creatively deal with your current challenges can bring you greater personal satisfaction and happiness.
The Secrets to a Fulfilling Life
No person is happy throughout their entire life. Irrespective of how blessed or brilliant they were, practically all of the men in the Grant Study endured tough times, setbacks and tragedies.
What ultimately allowed them to live happier, more fulfilling lives was the love and connections they developed, and their ability to find creative solutions to their problems and life challenges. And these are all matters of the heart!
Now that you know this, let me ask you…
How can you live your life differently? What new decisions will you make regarding your current relationships? How will you show up for yourself and others differently?
Feel free to leave your comments below.
From my heart to yours.
Heart Intelligence Coach
Photo by Jason Holmberg