'Money can't buy happiness' - As cliche as the quote sounds, it still holds to this date. Whatever we strive for, be it money, job, health, or relationships, is ultimately for our quest to achieve happiness. Yet we fall short on many levels.
Achieving unprecedented happiness has become one of the most difficult things to figure out in modern times. Mental Health has declined rapidly in the past few years due to various reasons like the pandemic. However, there's an expert for the rescue.
The term 'Happiness Expert' might be difficult to believe in. However, that's exactly what Dr. Robert Waldinger is. Dr. Waldinger is the director of the world's longest-running scientific study based on happiness.
Dr. Waldinger is the Psychiatry Professor at Harvard Medical School. He's also the co-author of a book called "The Good Life." Speaking in an interview with NPR (National Public Radio), Dr. Waldinger shares his secrets for a much happier life. He uses his research to support his claims.
Before Dr. Waldinger reveals his secret, it is important to understand the study from which he gets his data. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been going on since 1938.
It started as a study of what makes people thrive. However, Dr. Waldinger spent a lot of time studying what goes wrong in life. What does 'what makes people thrive' mean? Dr. Waldinger said that happiness can be of two types. The spike of sugar rush we get after doing something exciting and the contentment of sitting on a rocking chair.
Where does his data come from? He is even tracking the grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of his past subjects. Therefore, his dataset includes findings from both children and senior citizens.
Dr. Waldinger cuts right to the chase to finally reveal the number one thing to be much happier - TO INVEST ON OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
Dr. Waldinger revealed that the people who were happy and healthy had quality relationships with other people. The research found that relationships are stress relievers. Stress is a chronic condition that can break down even arteries and destroy our joints. Therefore, having quality relationships is our path toward happiness.
Making relationships with other people can be stressful for introverted and shy people. However, Dr. Waldinger has us all covered. He revealed that quality relationships should not necessarily be limited to family, friends, spouses, and co-workers. They can also be the person who makes our coffee in the morning or the person who delivers our mail. They might seem insignificant relationships, however, they play a huge role in our path toward happiness.
Dr. Waldinger also pointed out a mistake that both introverts and extroverts make. He said that we only spend time with people when we treat or reward ourselves. We spend time with our connections while on a break or at a party. However, Dr. Waldinger believes spending quality time with people shouldn't be looked at as a way of rewarding ourselves.
Dr. Waldinger suggests just picking up the phone or sending a text or an email to someone if you're missing them. The study has followed subjects for 80 years and it shows that subjects have their best relationships even at the age of 60 and 70.