Do you find that as you age, your values and perspectives change and frequently the things that were once important become irrelevant? If you’ve even wondered about what constitutes a happy, fulfilled life … read on as we continue to explore the remaining findings of the Harvard Grant Study.

Making Connections: The study found that it’s the connections we make in life that are critical to happiness, and it’s not just strong relationships with family and friends. “Feeling connected to your work” is far more important than the amount of your paycheck and being successful by traditional standards. A job that is fulfilling and gives back to the community, one that pays enough for you to live comfortably, and one that you’re passionate about and enjoy—this is what counts. Most people rarely find all three in a single job, but it’s the connections they make that matter most.

How many of these three factors do you enjoy in your job? And, do you think it’s realistic and achievable to have all three, i.e. a job that’s fulfilling, pays well, and that you’re passionate about and enjoy?

The study’s director, George Vaillant observed that, “The more areas in your life (that) you can make connections the better.”

It’s All about Perspective: Vaillant said one’s “coping mechanisms” play a huge part in their outlook on life. Developing a constructive way to manage life’s many challenges and adopting proven methods to manage stress is monumental in improving overall well-being.

Other findings: Most of the divorces (among the study’s participants) were the result of alcoholism. “It has a destructive power,” Vaillant said. That and cigarette smoke also contributed to early morbidity. Also, political beliefs contributed little to one’s overall happiness.

 There you have it: love is all that matters and in the end money and power are inconsequential. No matter the circumstance, happiness is truly attainable and if you make genuine connections and keep an optimistic perspective about life’s challenges, you are on your way to true, lasting happiness.  

What do you think about the study’s findings?  Are any of these suggestions things you’ve adopted in your life? Do you think this is really the source of lasting happiness? If not, what in your opinion is?

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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