The researchers behind the world’s largest happiness study: It makes us happy

The Harvard Study of Adult Development started 80 years ago in the USA and is the longest study in the world on happiness in particular. The results, which are published in the book “The Good Life”, are clear: It is close and good relationships that make us happiest.

– I think what surprises people the most is that money plays very little role in the final stages of life. Many of the participants have regretted focusing too much on their careers instead of their friends and families, says Marc Schulz, a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard.

Good relationships extend life

Marc Schulz and his co-researcher Robert Waldinger also highlight the importance of what they call “social fitness”, meaning that you have to train your relationships. This covers everything from making a conscious effort in the relationships that provide energy to making small talk with strangers on public transport. This makes us feel better both mentally and physically.

The study even shows that those who have better relationships at the age of 50 are both happier and healthier at 80. They also live longer.

Finland happiest in the world

The annual international report The World Happiness Report measures the level of, among other things, social support, income, personal freedom and corruption. In this year’s report, all the Nordic countries are in the top ten, and Finland takes first place for the sixth year in a row.

The tourist organization Visit Finland believes that it is due to Finns’ relationship with nature, lifestyle and sauna culture. Now they want to spread their recipe for happiness. In three weeks, the organization organizes a so-called “masterclass of happiness”. People from 190 countries have applied and 14 people have been accepted to visit a luxury resort in the Finnish lake area.

Hear the organizer Heli Jimenez tell more about Finland’s happiness masterclass in the clip above – and hear more about why we are not happier today in this week’s The idea agency.