The Best Predictor of Your Happiness Is…

Greetings everyone……I received a report recently which I have decided to share with everyone.  For over 75 years, a team at Harvard has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations:  over 700 men from both poor families and graduates from Harvard. The study included brain scans, blood samples, self-reported surveys and actual interactions. (I’m not sure why it was limited to men…but I believe the results would not be that different if women were also included.)

The conclusion:  One thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:  the clearest message from the 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

The biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life, is basically, love.

The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.

According to one of the researchers, “It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship.  It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

What that means is this: it doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of friends or if you are in a “perfect” romantic relationship.  It’s the quality of the relationships—how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are and truly see another.

There are two foundational elements to this: “One is love.  The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”  So it’s important to prioritize not only connection but your own capacity to process emotions and stress. 

The data is clear, that in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy. 

So the next time you’re scrolling through Facebook  or remain glued to your phone, instead of being present at the table with your significant other, or you are staying late at the office instead of getting together with your family or close friends, consider making a different choice. 

Relationships are messy and they’re complicated.  Well, that’s life.  And according to the director of the Harvard Study, Robert Waldinger, here is the bottom line:  The good life is built with good relationships. And obviously, that includes loving marriages.

Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.
Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.