It is not about having a lot of money. Or even about being successful. What is it about? It is about the relationships you have with family and friends. This especially includes your spouse or partner.
Harvard University has been running studies on happiness that go as far back as 1938. The studies looked at two groups of men. The first group included men who went to college. They started life as successful young adults. For example, President John F. Kennedy was one of the people in the study.
The second group included men who came from troubled homes. Some of the people in both groups had lives that led to alcoholism or mental illness.
Over the years, the men led all kinds of lives. The ones who are still alive today are in their 90s.
The biggest reason for being happy was strong attachments. They were best when they included a spouse. People in good relationships had less chronic disease, mental illness and decline in memory. It did not matter if the relationships were not always great. What makes a good relationship? The most important aspect was the belief that people could count on one another when things got bad.
The research found other things. It was important to develop new relationships when people retire or move. Are happy people more likely to forge new relations than unhappy people? Or do new relations create happy people? The research does not provide final answers to these questions.
The researchers are confident about their findings. They say good relations create happier people.
Source: The New York TImes March 23, 2016