George Valliant wrote a book called Triumphs & Experience: The Men of The Harvard Grant Study where he shares the findings of this study. Here are some of the more important aspects of what was revealed.
Given everything that people think is important in life including: money, career success, power, physical health etc. the Harvard researchers found that without loving supportive relationships, life was not very happy. The researchers did regular updates throughout the lives of the participants even as they were into their 90’s.
It is interesting to realize that people push so hard for money, material success and power, find that over time happiness associated with these aspects of life diminished greatly.
Those who listened to their own selves regarding the work that they were doing, were found to be contented in their 70’s. These men found real joy in life around doing the work they loved.
The reasons that loving relationships matter so much is that it is through our ability to share our feelings and frustrations in life with others, that we are able to get out of the “victim” state and onto figuring out new ways of dealing with challenging situations. When we have the connection with others, they can help and support us through these challenging times.
Men with warm relationships with their mother’s during their growing up years were found to have taken home more than $87,000 more than those with uncaring mothers. It seems that these positive relationships allowed the men to be more effective on the job. The men with poor relationships with their mothers were found to have developed dementia more often.
Men who had good relationships with their fathers over their growing up years were found to have lower rates of anxiety and more contentment on vacations with increased life satisfaction at the age of 75. The warm relationships with their mothers did not seem to have this effect.
Given the sorts of people that I see in my practice, many who have felt neglected and/or abused, the importance of strong loving bonds of parents to their children is made clear.
I often ask my adult clients to think of times that were happy and were having fun. Sadly, many find this very hard to do. From these poor beginnings my clients find themselves fighting all sorts of mental and physical health issues because of the stress that is buried in their bodies, many feeling all alone in the world carrying the weight on their backs and shoulders.
The best skill set that any parent can give their child is that of being able to relate to others in a loving and supportive manner. This can be done with appropriate physical touch like sharing hugs, and through loving language of appreciation. It is also so very important to allow your child to be who they are, discover what interests they have and to find work that is aligned with those interests. By allowing your child to figure out what matters to him/her you will be guiding that child into a life that is full of great experiences of connection. It is those very important conversations where one feels heard and understood, and doing those things that we enjoy doing that will bring the most joy, contentment and happiness to life. Teach you child how to do that, and you will have done your job well.
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