What makes you happy?
You might think it’s as simple as a curry on a Friday night, a glass (or even a bottle!) of wine on an evening. But a curry on your own, a bottle of wine alone or even watching a sporting or cultural event means little if it is not shared.
Time and time again, the research shows us that it is good relationships that bring us happiness and this has never been more apparent than during Covid.
Being locked away from our friends and family, many of us have, or are, really struggling to keep going - the early statistics show that 42% of young people felt their mental health was worse during lockdown (NHS 2020).
And when we say good relationships, we don’t necessarily mean romance!
We’re talking about close relationships with other people be they friends or family; when we are engaged with our fellow human beings - we are at our happiest.
In a survey of millennials, asking them what their most important life goals were, over 80% said that a major life goal for them was to get rich; and 50% of those same young adults, said another major goal was to become famous (Wallinger 2015).
But, many of the things that we think make us happy like money, beauty, fame, intelligence and even education, actually don’t deliver. Of course, the media will tell you otherwise, else how would they make their money?
If we were truly satisfied with how we looked and smelt, then the cosmetics and fashion industries would go out of business in a heartbeat!
All these things can make you happy, but the happiness they bring is very short-lived and dissipates extremely quickly. Humans are very good at adjusting to their circumstances, no matter what they experience.
Research shows us that even people who have been in an accident and end up paralysed from the waist down, quickly adjust and in only a few months, return to their baseline levels of happiness.
One of the longest studies ever done, 'The Harvard study of Adult Development' has been tracking the lives of 724 individuals for over 75 years. Every two years, they are interviewed and asked a long list of questions - more recently, their spouses and children have also been interviewed and even joined the study themselves.
And the clearest message revealed through this research?
Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
We can’t be happy all the time but with a few minor changes, you can probably be happier than you currently are. So why not start today?
Call a friend, reach out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in a while, or take a long walk and greet everyone you see.
A great life is built on great relationships. And great relationships will make you happy!