75-Year Harvard Study Concludes: Happiness is Love.

75-year harvard study concludes - happiness is love

I’ll admit it. I don’t get the anti-love people. I mean, if you’re married to your career, if your friends are your family, if you love your pets like children, good for you. Go on with your bad self. But guess what? You’re missing out.

In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history.  The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.

In Vallant’s own words, the #1 most important finding from the Grant Study is this: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love.  Full stop.”

If you’re married to your career, if your friends are your family, if you love your pets like children, good for you. Go on with your bad self. But guess what? You’re missing out.

You can truly love a dog. You can truly love a platonic friend. I just find it hard to compare such platonic relationships to the kind of love shared by a couple who created a family and lived together for fifty years. The author talks about having “Warm Relationships,” which, in theory could encompass friendships. But, in truth, I would suspect a majority of happy 75-year-old men have one best friend – a wife – as opposed to a bunch of high school buddies who still talk with him every day.

Full article here. Let me know whether you think that:

a) Friendships are equal to romantic relationships and b) Whether you’re happier when you’re in love. Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Sunflower

    I don’t think friendships are equal to romantic love and yes, I do believe you are happier when you have “love” in your life regardless on whether that’s from a romantic partner or not.  The main take away from the article was that “Happiness is Love….Full Stop.”  I am currently not in a romantic relationship, but I have such quality (warm) relationships with my family, friends and son, that imagining myself any happier than I am right now, seems unreal.  Besides that, the article did mention feeling a greater fulfillment in your later years……I’m 52 and agree most heartedly with that assumption.

  2. 2
    Dora

    Yes,Happiness is Love. I have Love – a lot of it- from 4 legged. Love from a man is a Myth and useless thing to pursue. There are Not many good men- there are many bad ones. ..or otherwise said – 95 % of men are not good, the 5% left are of course taken and if they are lucky to have what they want in life – they will never become available..Good for them,not for us..In support of this, I heard a saying – “Good woman can do it All on her own. A good man – won’t let her” (do it all on her own). Where I am coming from – there are No good men Left out in this world  free floating and waiting/wanting to meet those good women.
    So, yes- I am Very Happy and Very loved and I do really Love back with all my being – my horses and dogs and animals. And I am Happy, because I am in Love with them all.
    And Yes – friends are much better to love and be loved from. They do Not let you down,they do accept you as you are,they do really care about you,you really can count on them and not be stubbed in the back.Friends are not equal to romantic relationship – they are Better,when they are true friends, much better.!!! They do not try to control you or tell you what to do,they listen and take part in everything you “trow” at them. Relationship with real friend and with loving animal is Easy and natural. and how it should be with a  “man”. So it is much Better.!!!
    The old men talked about in the article -are Rare find – not a rule. If happiness between  people in marriages and relationships was so great and so true, there would not have divorce rates increasing,would not have domestic violence, substance abuse,mental illness etc… Everyone would be paired up and happy!!!! Where I am,more and more women are living alone and turning toward their animals – why is that..? And I am not talking about 20+ years old, I am talking about women in their 50s,60 and even 70s…- the “Good” women,the experienced ones.. Human race in general goes to decline in every way,but men account for more of this,in my opinion.

    1. 2.1
      Henriette

      Last I checked, the divorce rate was actually in decline.

  3. 3
    JennLee

    I think this should be shown to young people. I am coming to the conclusion that relationships are best when you meet when younger, marry, and then stay together through thick and thin. Then, when you are 70, you have all of those memories to make an unbreakable bond. Many men and women are messing this recipe up. Waiting too long to get serious about finding one person to love. Bailing out of marriages for the smallest things, that we make into big things. Being angry, having a closed heart, demanding, hateful, unforgiving, gossipy, etc, and then we wonder why we are unhappy. We don’t allow ourselves to have those many years of bonding to keep us warm when we are much older. I fear that the younger generation is going to have it even worse because of the way they are using so much technology to replace face to face interaction.

    1. 3.1
      Julia

      People who marry younger are the ones who get divorced. I am marrying later and yet I am very happy. But I am of the younger generation you speak of,  use technology, I wish that you wouldn’t degrade the way we communicate or question the quality of our relationships. I have good relationships with many friends that I am able to keep up with thanks to social media. I met my fiance via online dating. My relationships are not worse than your because they are different.

      1. 3.1.1
        Cathy

        Julia, Thanks for your comments. I regret that I was not able to commit to my long time boyfriend in my 20s. Since then, I have had just one real opportunity. The rest – including the last one over 4 years – are with people who can’t commit and then I try to make in work. Hopefully I have learnt my lesson. And I am reading your comments as a sign of hope that something meaningful can still be built later on in life (am in my early 50′s). 

      2. 3.1.2
        twinkle

        Firstly, Julia, have some mercy. How is anyone supposed to focus on reading with that ridiculously-adorable raccoon as your avatar??
         
        Also, congrats on your finding a good fiance. :) While hopping round this blog, I saw a comment from you saying u’d met 50 guys in 2 years thru online dating, which is terrific. I think a person really should meet many dates before deciding on a potential spouse. I’m happy the effort paid off for you (and for him).
         
        I have also just started online dating, as I work in a teeny office which never has more than 5 employees at a time! Online dating is a godsend for people with limited opportunities to meet new people. Hopefully I will meet a good partner like you. :)

  4. 4
    D'Anna

    Evan, I get a lot out of your writings and have purchased your material.  But I have to say that not everybody finds the perfect partner.  I was married young and divorced fast.  In my mid-40′s I placed an ad and met a man that I actually am embarrassed to say I told myself, and a few close friends, I believed was a “gift from God” because I never thought I would meet someone so wonderful after decades of serial monogamous relationships. Others did not see him as wonderful, he was quite eccentric.  But he was “my eccentric.” Twelve years later that “gift from G-d” turned out to be such a p*tz, that if I never hear his name again I will be a happy woman.  How people can be fooled, and fool themselves.  And I’m talking about lies and dishonesty here, not just incompatibility or boredom.  Full on “I’m not who I said I was.” 

    That said, I pulled myself together, dated other men, left with kindness when I knew it was the right thing to do.  I immersed myself in my community, volunteered, continued to love and be loved by the kids in my family – nieces and nephews – and other family members, yes, had a dog ;o) and I have super friends, longstanding and newly made.  This is how I live a good, happy life. 

    I have been in a relationship for 15 months with a good, sometimes difficult, getting over his own issues, divorced man (22 years married, 7 years divorced).  Is he the love of my life?  I have no idea.   But I don’t worry about it because … I have a basis of support and love and interests in my life to sustain me if we break up.  You are 5 years, I think, into your marriage, Evan, and I wish you 100 more loving years.  But … not everybody gets that in life — so it is important, I think, to not make marriage and children out to be the “be all and end all” of a life well lived – some of us, out of necessity, find happiness elsewhere.  Peace.

  5. 5
    Noemi

    As one blogger eloquently described, “Pets can’t answer back with sarcastic comments or moan about the state of the house so it’s easy to have a blissful relationship with a pet, which can’t always been said of human relationships.” I love my dog because he is always so happy, and does not have the voice to complain about or criticize what I do or don’t do…alas, I may need to find a better boyfriend.

     

  6. 6
    Amy

    I believe nothing equals romantic love, there just is no substitute!  But, even though one is happier when in love, the potential for great pain is also there. That pain is less likely to occur in friendships, love for family members, pets, etc. But the risk of pain is worth it.

  7. 7
    shellbell

    Great article, and I agree with you sunflower, about being happier later in life. I’ve had a pretty happy life, despite the difficulties, but find that being 41, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I’m currently in a romantic relationship right now that has been going on for just a little over a year, but still feel that even if it doesn’t work out, I’m still going to be ok and happy.
     
    I’ve said this many times, but I wouldn’t go back to my 20′s or early 30′s for anything!

  8. 8
    Rebecca

    I truly love my closest friends and I am closer to them than to blood relatives, but my closest, most intimate friendships were with my husband and with the man I was in love with before I started dating my husband.  I love my career and it feeds me; and I adore my cats, although not the way I am wholly given over to people I love; but I was definitely was happier when I was married.  I’m grumpy about the ultimate status of a 50 year relationship with the man I created a family with, since that is no longer an option for me.  But yeah, a big duh to the idea that happily married people are happier.
     

  9. 9
    Noquay

    I fully agree with Rebecca, I was far happier when married. My biggest regret in life was the breakup of my marriage and yep, my ex and I are still friends.  I have many pets, farm animals, a small but quality circle of friends, high end career, live a very full life. However, I truly miss physical touch, being with
    someone who shares my values, doing things together. Maybe it is because there is no family anymore, not that I ever had family support, but the alone-ness, trying not to be so negative when the few compatible
    men I meet winds up being already attached,
    the problem men wind up harassing/stalking me, really has eaten away at my psyche and I struggle daily with not being negative, even wanting to just end it at times due to the complete lack of hope. Then many blogs tell you to be happy with being alone, or to settle with someone who doesn’t work for you. These things are completely counter to who we are biologically; highly social primates who literally wither and die without meaningful contact, physical and emotional, with our own kind.

  10. 10
    starthrower68

    I can believe that most people are happier in a strong, healthy marriage (I did not say perfect); but because there are no guarantees of having such in live, we have to purpose to be happy without it as well. Because the alternative is not good.

  11. 11
    Erin

    Happiness is absolutely love, and vice versa. There is actually nothing I want more in this universe than to find a man to be in love with.  I have a great life – awesome family, wonderful friends and a dog I adore more than anything.  However, I am lonely.  I am also at an age where all of my friends are married with kids, and I am constantly the 5th wheel, which is exhausting.  Despite my best efforts to find love (actively dating a few times a week, following all of the commandments of EMK 101) I am single.  I am coming into the acceptance phase of the knowledge that I am most likely going to live the rest of my life as a single woman.  The holiday party season is coming up, and I am most likely going to decline the invitations.  I can’t handle being the only single person at these parties, the constant questions why I am single/where is my date, and worst of all – being forced to chat up some over 40 loser who I am fairly certain lives in his mom’s basement and spends his time playing World of Warcraft.  Think I will stay home and watch HGTV with my dog and a glass of wine instead.  
    Btw – Harvard, with your prestige and brain power, are you really just learning the NSN (no s*it news) that love is happiness? Really? Mmmmkay. 
     

    1. 11.1
      Ruby

      @ Erin: If all your social activities revolve around married couples, maybe it’s time to start hanging out more with other singles doing activities in social groups like Meetup. You might even meet someone you like.  At least you’ll be having fun, and not feel like the 5th wheel.
       
      Would most of us like to be happily married? Sure, but how many people actually attain that? So I don’t think that most people not in relationships are anti-love, maybe just burned out. They also want to avoid divorce, something that many divorced people did not concern themselves with so much or they might not have married. Finding a quality partner gets more difficult as you get older, especially for women. Almost all of my younger friends are in relationships or married.
       
       

    2. 11.2
      JennLee

      Erin, I think Ruby gave wonderful advice. Go to singles functions. For one, it will also alleviate some of the pressure you will feel to have a guy who measures up to the scrutiny of your friends. Ever consider that the loser in his mom’s basement playing WoW is just there because like you, he gave up on finding somebody? They do get out, and some are tired of playing games. Of course you can operate on the assumption that unlike you, those over 40 guys, and even some under 40 guys are single for a reason. Will some of them look at you and assume that you are single for a reason? Since you mentioned over 40 guys in a derogatory fashion, I assume you are very early 30s?

  12. 12
    Erin

    @JennLee and @ Ruby,
    Thanks for the advice, but attending “singles” events is not really a legitimate idea. I live in the tech center of the world, and single men outnumber single women by a huge margin.  However, we are only talking quantity, not quality.  Many of these men are so highly educated and so intelligent that they are simply unable to have a conversation or have lighthearted fun over a glass of wine.  Or these men are just getting out of long marriages that were arranged when they were 20.  They have limited social skills, and on top of being in unhappy marriages for so long, they just don’t really know how to move a potential connection along.  These singles events usually end up with a group of single women wondering when the quality men are going to show up. 
    I called out the over 40 set because I have been casually set up with a  few fanny pack/Bill Cosby sweater wearing guys at parties - simply on the basis that we are both single.  Joy.  I am 36, and I have done my share of rehabilitating men to be social in pleasant society (getting algorithms out of the vocab, throwing away the Bill Cosby sweaters, message tees and diaper butt khakis, etc.).  These men have all shown promise at the beginning of the relationship, but things have gone sour for one reason or another, and totally unrelated to their wardrobes.  
    My ideal man is somewhere in the 40s, and I don’t care at all if my friends love him or hate him.  It just seems like all of the quality men are taken.  I’m so tired of feasting on scraps. 

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Just logically, how could it be that “all the quality men are taken”. I mean, just think about it. The ONLY quality single people on Planet Earth are women? Really? What about all the guys who get married between the ages of 36-45? None of those men are quality either?

      Go on a site for guys and they’ll be lamenting the lack of quality women. So instead of saying something that is patently ridiculous, how about you realize that dating is frustrating for everyone – and you may have to go on 100 dates before you get it right?

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