The Harvard Grant Study followed two groups of men for 75 years to answer the question: what makes men happy?
The study broke the men into two groups: 237 healthy Harvard college sophomores from the classes of 1939-1944 and 332 inner city youths who grew up in Boston between 1940 and 1945. The study followed the men into their 70s.
The results of the study were published in two books by George Valliant. He said the goal was to identify the predictors of healthy aging. The main points of the study concluded:
Alcoholism is a great destructive power. It was the main cause of divorce. With smoking, it was the number one contributor to morbidity and death.
Financial success depends on warm relationships. Those who scores highest on measurements of warm relationships earned an average of $141,000 a year.
Political affiliation correlates with intimacy. The most conservative men ceased to have sexual relations at an average age of 68. The most liberal men had active sex lives into their 80s.
The warmth of childhood relationships with mothers and fathers matters long into adulthood. Men who had warm relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men who had uncaring mothers. Men who had poor relationships with their mothers were more likely to develop dementia. Men with good relationships with their fathers had lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment of vacations, and increased life satisfaction at the age of 75.
The main conclusion of the study was that the warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on live satisfaction. Valliant sums up the 75-year study in five words: "Happiness is love. Full stop."
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