For nothing is fixed forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed: the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
- James Baldwin-
This is the month of love. February brings kisses, hugs, chocolates and roses to lovers everywhere. The smiles and laughter are no artificial facade. It is a human condition...a need to love and be loved. Research into love and happiness in recent years challenge our most basic cultural, political and economic assumptions, and are transforming the field of psychology itself. The areas of Positive Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Neuropsychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Counselling, are being impacted by the surprising results into what makes us happy in life.
Harvard University had the unique opportunity to study a group of it’s male students over their lifetimes. The study known as the “Grant Study” after it’s initial funding donor, studied a group of 268 young men beginning in the 1940s and followed their development. The study continues to this date. It is a remarkable piece of research into what factors create and maintain success and more importantly, happiness in a person’s life.
Surprisingly, the study discovered that wealth , health, material possessions, stature in society or vocation , were not key factors in a person’s long term happiness. The one element that created happiness in life was a good relationship with a partner… in other words, LOVE.
The impact of love in a person’s life was discovered to be very significant. Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old. Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment of vacations, and increased “life satisfaction” at age 75—whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.
The researcher’s key takeaway, in his own words: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion:
‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
This February take the opportunity to build relationships with those around you. The research and the science confirm how important it is for all of us.