Harvard Study Proves These 3 Things are the Secret to Real Happiness

Happiness will make you healthier.

But what is the secret to happiness?

A 75 year Harvard Study of Adult Development, shows there are 3 things that we can do for ourselves and our families to improve our quality of life. Here they are…

It turns out that these 3 secrets are not that secret. In fact it is what the Bible has been saying all along!

“Whoever desires to love life

and see good days,

let him keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from speaking deceit;

let him turn away from evil and do good;

let him seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:10, 11

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger, team lead for the study, explains in a Ted Talk what the research found:

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

The Harvard study emphasizes three secrets to happiness:

1. Close Relationships

According to Waldinger “The men in both groups of the Harvard study who reported being closer to their family, friends, or community tended to be happier and healthier than their less social counterparts. They also tended to live longer. By comparison, people who said they were lonelier reported feeling less happy. They also had worse physical and mental health, as defined above.”

2. Quality (Not Quantity) of Relationships (so face book ‘friends’ are no help)

The Harvard study found, “It’s not just being in a relationship that matters. Married couples who said they argued constantly and had low affection for one another (which study authors defined as “high-conflict marriages”) were actually less happy than people who weren’t married at all.”

3. Stable, Supportive Marriages

Waldinger point out that, “Being socially connected to others isn’t just good for our physical health. It also helps stave off mental decline.” People who were married without having divorced, separating, or having “serious problems” until age 50 performed better on memory tests later in life than those who weren’t!

It’s Like the Bible Teaches

The Bible doesn’t place an emphasis on making money or making a name for ourselves. It’s all about our relationship with God and our relationship with others.(Matthew 22:36-40) The Harvard Study bears this out. “Society places a lot of emphasis on wealth and ‘leaning in’ to our work, Waldinger said. “But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.

Take Away Questions

It is good to ask ourselves these questions as a follow up to the study.

  • Are my closest relationships my top priority?
  • Am I investing heart, mind and strength into my marriage and my kids?
  • Have I traded quality for quantity in my relationships spreading myself too thin instead of going deep?
  • How can I improve my relationships so that they are closer, warmer, more meaningful, and conflict free?
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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com