Happiness comes mainly from 3 things: choosing to be happy with whatever you do, strengthening your closest relationships and exercising more to maintain your health.
Thus revealed a recent survey of Harvard’s class of 1980 – with data likely biased to those feeling good enough about their lives to respond to the survey. I compared responses between those “extremely happy” and the rest of the respondents.
These revelations are in line with two earlier studies: The Grant Study and a 2010 Survey of the same class.
The 75 year longitudinal Grand Study led by George Vaillant had two main findings:
1 Happiness is love.
2 If alcoholism is not the root of all evil, it is closely correlated with it.
An earlier survey of this same group suggested that “Happiness is good”. Actually, happiness comes from three goods. Everyone is motivated by a blend of 1. Doing good for others, 2. Doing things they are good at, 3. Doing good for me. Given this, Dan Doctoroff and I suggested our classmates (and everyone else) focus on three things:
Good for others:
- Cherish your most important relationships
- Be a contribution
Good at it:
- Do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not so good at.
Good for me:
- Take care of yourself, your health and well-being, your financial security, and your work/life balance.
This year’s survey suggests you can be happier if you: Choose to be happy with whatever you do, strengthen your closest relationships and exercise more to maintain your health.
Choose to be happy with whatever you do
The correlation between happiness and occupation, income or wealth is far less that the correlation between happiness and how people feel about their occupation, income or wealth.
Strengthen your closest relationships
The most important happiness choice is to invest in your closest relationship whether it’s a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.
Exercise more to maintain your health
We all know that exercising and taking care of yourself correlates with good health. The happiest among us actually do exercise and take care of ourselves.
Implications for you as an individual
1 Choose happiness in whatever you do.
2 Strengthen your closest relationships.
3 Exercise more to maintain your health.
Implications for you as a leader
1 Focus on how your team members feel about what they are doing even more than what they are doing.
2 Invest in relationships with your team members.
Invest in your team members’ physical wellbeing!