Harvard Researchers Say You Need Just This One Thing To Be Happy

When it comes to the purpose of life, most people would say they want to be happy.

But if you ask different people what exactly makes them happy, you can probably expect many different answers. Some people would cite their individual passions, some would say success and money, others traveling or a having family.

Although you may think the answer is subjective, a 75-year-long Harvard University Study might stand to prove otherwise. According to this research, the answer to true happiness lies in the hands of keeping good relationships.

The longitudinal study, known as The Grant Study, has been going on since, and it has included research on the Harvard Elite, including John F. Kennedy, as well as disadvantaged inner-city youth from Boston.

The study set out to find predictors of healthy aging, and participants are evaluated every two years to gather information about their physical and mental health, as well as career enjoyment, retirement experience and marital quality.

The Grant Study determined a number of things, but the strongest correlation was between positive relationships and happiness. Those who ranked highest on measurements of “warm relationships” had the highest salaries and were most likely to achieve professional success. They also showed less memory decline and went on to live longer lives.

On the flip side, those who reported being lonely are less happy, have worse physical health and brain functioning and end up living shorter lives.

When it comes to friendships and marriages, the study also found that it was quality of the relationships, not the quality, that mattered. The less conflict, the better: The Harvard study found that people in high-conflict marriages were less happy than the people who weren’t married at all.

A variety of other studies back up The Grant Study’s premise that close relationships foster a healthy and happy life.

A 2002 University of Illinois study found that people who strong ties to friends and family and spend time with them reported feeling the happiest, while a 2000 study from the journal, Social Behavior and Personality, showed that even having just one close relationship can help ward off feelings of loneliness.

With so much scientific support on the side of maintaining close relationships, it might be time to call up that old friend of yours and reconnect. Who knows, it could very well make you happier.