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What do you need at 50 to be happy at 80?

happiness midlife Jun 12, 2020

Do you know what the biggest factor will be in whether you are happy in your twilight years?

Have a guess.  Is it:

  • Being financially independent
  • Is it still being married
  • or being single
  • is it travelling the world
  • is it having your kids nearby
  • perhaps the level of education
  • having the prestige of a successful career - reaching the top - to look back on 
  • is it still being physically and mentally fit?

I think we'd all appreciate that many of those things will help ... at least they look like making life easier and more enjoyable.

But what if it was none of these.  Would that surprise you?

In the worlds longest study of adults - almost 80 years - started in 1938 by Harvard University and carried on by 4 generations of directors and researchers, they discovered something surprising.

Director Robert Waldinger explains what that is the video.  When I last checked, you can also view the video on Youtube here:

It was a study that started with 724 men, and as of 2015 60 were still alive.

The study included the highly educated middle class but also men from the poorest and disadvantaged areas of Boston in the 1930s.

For those who can't wait:

Waldinger says:

"So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we've generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren't about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

And what I found fascinating as someone who works with people in midlife is this finding:

"Once we had followed our men all the way into their 80s, we wanted to look back at them at midlife and to see if we could predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy octogenarian and who wasn't. And when we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn't their middle age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old. It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. And good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain. "


 I found this challenging.  Watch the clip and please let me know your comments.

Guy M.

P.S I'd love to hear from you on this topic: You can email me your thoughts here


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