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  • I want you to think of one thing that could make you happy over the course of your life.

  • And not like tacos or Harry Potter, something that could actually sustain your happiness

  • for many years. You can say anything you like, but to measure it scientifically we would

  • have to study you at regular intervals for most of your life. Luckily, that study has

  • already been done.

  • The Harvard Grant study began in 1938 and it followed 268 male undergraduate students

  • for more than 70 years. It planned to track them over their entire lives, so it measured

  • a whole bunch of psychological and physical traits, like personality, IQ and the function

  • of their major organs. Because it was so huge it had so many findings. Like your financial

  • success is more dependent on the warmth of relationships than intelligence. And cigarette

  • smoking was the single greatest factor that contributed to the men’s death.

  • When George Vaillant, the lead researcher of the study for more than 30 years, was asked

  • what was the single greatest finding from it, he said, “It was the capacity for intimate

  • relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives...Happiness

  • is love."

  • What these 70 odd years of research suggest is that... love is all you need. But it doesn’t

  • necessarily mean having a long relationship or marriage with a partner.

  • The study looked at the men’s relationship with their parents and how it affected them

  • over the course of their lives. Men who had a warm relationship with their mother as a

  • child earned an average of $87,000 a year more than men who had an uncaring mothers.

  • And those with an uncaring mother were more likely to develop dementia later in life.

  • The warmth of the men's relationships with their fathers was correlated with enjoying

  • vacations more and greater life satisfaction at age 75.

  • The findings are super interesting, of course correlation doesn’t equal causation.

  • Another researcher, John Gottman, set upThe Love Labin the 80s, where he asked newlyweds

  • to speak about their relationship while he measured things like their heart rate and

  • how much sweat they produced. He observed two groups, themasters,” who spoke calmly

  • about their partner and stayed married, and thedisasters,” who eventually broke

  • up. When the disasters spoke about their partner they were in fight-or-flight mode, they had

  • a fast heart beat and produced a greater amount of sweat. When they thought about their partner

  • it was like they were being approached by an ill-tempered sea bass.

  • Of course these people were open to intimate relationshipsjust the one they were in

  • was a disaster.

  • From his decades of research, Gottman suggests lasting relationships come down to two basic

  • traits: kindness and generosity.

  • And if, like the Harvard Grant study suggests, our relationships with our family are so important

  • to our happiness and life satisfaction, offering more kindness and generosity in those is surely

  • beneficial.

  • So it seems being open to love is all you need.

  • Let me know your thoughts in the comments and if you don’t already, show a bit of

  • love and subscribe to BrainCraft. I have a new episode out every Thursday.

I want you to think of one thing that could make you happy over the course of your life.

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Is Love All You Need?

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    林曉玉 posted on 2015/04/24
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