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5 research-backed lessons on what makes a happy life

May 8, 2017

About the Author

photo of Robert John Waldinger, MD

Robert John Waldinger, MD, Contributor

Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever … See Full Bio
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Daniel D. Connor
May 22, 2017

The women above who appear to be angry perhaps should spend time applying these suggestions which may assist all of us regardless of gender.

May 20, 2017

If you want to never be happy or satisfied with your life, one great way to do that is to raise your expectations to an unrealistically high standard that can never possibly be met.

This is the essence of perfectionism. It’s the inability to be happy with something until it is perfect, without any flaws whatsoever. Of course, the problem with this mindset is that perfectionism is often an illusion.

Life rarely works out exactly the way we want, in any domain – whether it’s relationships, work, or goals.

And many times being more happy with your life requires that you let go of these expectations and learn to be more content with how things are, rather than how you picture they should be in an “ideal world.”

Many studies are beginning to show the many ways perfectionism can destroy your happiness.

Arjen, founder of Dutch Digital Delta

Safina Qurban
May 17, 2017

I believe that true happiness touches our souls n hearts if we start counting our blessings and offer gratitude that we are given much more than we deserve and also value nurture those blessings and if we lack something,just accept it and work to accomplish something if we could and value and respect our own beings and yeah for sure try to a generous giver of our time,resources and knowledge as it’s the law if the universe as we receive we have to give back too.

May 18, 2017

I fully agree with Safinas point of view.We should count our blessings especially​ which we probably don’t deserve.
Importantly​,we should say no to the materialistic life, unnecessary competition,be content with what we have been bestowed upon.

May 17, 2017

I think Ana is agreeing with Babara.

And I agree too

Heather Weiss, Global Family Research Project
May 16, 2017

Did they ever interview or study the men’s wives/partners? Their kids? They clearly play a big role for the men in their health and happiness, and vice versa?
Heather Weiss
Global Family Research Project

Robert J Waldinger
May 17, 2017

We were able to include wives when I joined the Study in 2003. And we’re now studying the children — 1300 of them.

May 16, 2017

Poor Richard Branson and Bill Gates – what are they to do with their impossibly introverted natures. They should have given up right at the start.

Robert Waldinger
May 17, 2017

The findings aren’t about extroverts vs introverts. It’s about warmth of relationships. You can be an introvert and have one warm relationship and have the effects we find. Our culture is biased toward extroverts.

May 15, 2017

Telling an introvert to stop being one is like asking a person with pneumonia not to cough!

Sharon Felson
May 15, 2017

What do you mean by “a medical defect” in regard to introverts?

Lois Jecklin
May 15, 2017

This study was done in the ’30’s and ’40’s, so of course it was OF men and BY men. Almost all health studies in that period were just that way. That said, it did not offer any new insights.

Shula Gross
May 15, 2017

I am so upset by this study! As usual, you interviewed hundreds of men and never thought to add a substantial number of women to the study.
How typical of Harvard research. Aren’t you even afraid to publish this lest someone attack you on these grounds?

It seems to me (only a prof of statistics and bio statistics) that it is exactly coping mechanism that are so gender dependent, and you have the gall to represent your results as general and applicable to the entire population. Were they ALL WHITE MEN??? OR NEARLY SO?

Shula Gross
Baruch College of the City University of New York
and the Graduate Center

May 15, 2017

Nothing is mentioned about inner strength, the ability to cope under

sometimes trying circumstances and RESILENCE……

S. Stephens
May 15, 2017

It would be helpful to follow and research women too.

I hope this can happen soon. It makes sense not only because women are so much more different in men in some ways, but also because women outnumber men.

Thank you!

May 9, 2017

“Lesson 5: Time with others makes us happier”

What about for introverts, for whom spending time with others makes us less happy.

May 15, 2017

Then you may be happy being an introvert but never reach the apex of human happiness. Try not to be an introvert. Human animals are not introverts. You may have a medical defect that needs to be repaired.

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