What Makes Us Happy

George Vaillant spent a lifetime tracking the lives of male Harvard students, in the most comprehensive longitudinal study of mental and physical health in a study called “the Grant Study” – a study that also tracks happiness. In an article in the magazine The Atlantic Joshua Wolf Shenk shares with us the case study and Vaillant’s assessment that happiness is not “how much or how little trouble these men met, but rather precisely how – and to what effect – they responded to that trouble.”

There are unhealthy “adapatations” – or thoughts or behaviors – including use of alcohol and isolating oneself from others.

There are “healthy” – or mature – adaptations:

  • altruism – helping others because it is the right thing to do.
  • use of humor.
  • anticipation (planning ahead for future discomfort).
  • suppression (being able to postpone impulsive behaviors or conflict to be addressed later).
  • sublimination (finding outlets for uncomfortable feelings, like exercising when angry).

We can’t generalize these results to everybody. Clearly the study has shown that relationships are important. Giving to others is also important. Budgeting and financial planning is important. And avoiding impulsive spending is important.

Related topics on relationships at Prosperity Trek.

Related topics on giving back to others at Prosperity Trek.

Related topics on budgeting at Prosperity Trek.

Related topics on spending at Prosperity Trek.

Related Information in Prosperity View

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