My first guess would have been along the lines of a size 8 figure, a home that is paid for, a million bucks in the bank, good friends, frequent trips abroad, and healthy prospering children. Right? Wrong.
My second guess would have been timing. Whether you’re leaving a job, a husband, or a dinner party, knowing when to exit and when to begin anew is everything.
Johnny Carson knew when to leave. The Kardashians don’t. Andy Rooney worked until the end. So did Steve Jobs and Bob Hope.
I was raised with the notion that seeing things through was the commendable way. Life taught me differently. Surely timing has got to be the secret to happiness! Wrong again.
So what is the secret to a happy life?
A Harvard Grant Study came upon the answer: love.
That’s it? Love? THAT’S the secret to a happy life?
Evidently it is.
While the study did not include women (huge mistake from the get to), it followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 for 75 years. The conclusion they reached was a slam dunk. To love, be loved and be open to love is the key to true happiness in your life.
This explains why divorced people are so unhappy (I speak from experience). They are at the end of a promised love that didn’t deliver. Few things are more brutal on the psyche.
The study concludes that relationships are what really matter in all our lives. Is there anyone out there who didn’t already know this (other than my ex-husband, of course)?
It does not surprise me to know that if a man has wealth, power, health, and a private helicopter … if he isn’t loved, he isn’t happy. It may, however, surprise many a man.
Women get this understanding easier than most men. The need to love and be loved is a primal need in most of us. The goal can never be squelched, no matter how many bad relationships we have to go through to find it.
If love is the answer to a happy life, I’m more than halfway home. I am not a wealthy woman by any stretch of the imagination, but I do wake up every single morning happy as a pig in slop (You’re welcome for the visual). I end each day the same way.
I didn’t plan it that way. It just happened. Love found me despite myself. I was just open to it. Color me lucky.
In an unofficial study of my own, love IS the key to happiness and timing has a lot to do with it. Close behind is the ownership and loving of wonderful pets, good friends, happy kids and a lifetime supply of chocolate brownie ice-cream.
After all these years it’s nice to know that in the end, the Beatles were right …love is all you need.
Suerae Stein - Great post, Tammy! I wonder… does the study mention that is has to be romantic love? Can it be love of friends and family? Just curious as I know people who have never found that one special partner, but are surrounded by loved ones just the same.
Tammy - Suerae, the study is huge! It references a sharing, companionship love. It can exist between people and pets, friends, etc. Love is love. The romantic kind of love is pronounced, but where ever love is shared, exchanged, given or taken….there is happiness to be found. *whew*! So happy to hear from you!!
Mel Glenn - Can’t argue with even one word of this. The Beatles had it right. Unconditional love is the devoutly to be wished, but I wonder what are the statistics on that?
An eternal truth that bears repeating and repeating.
Tammy - Hi Mel, great question! How would one go about configuring the stats on unconditional love? Geesh, my head hurts just thinking about it. Agree, eternal truths absolutely need repeating. And repeating. Love, love having you here. Never did find you on my :(. I will keep trying!
Joan Cooper - Well, Tammy, I rarely disagree with you but l-o-v-e is just a four letter word. Why? Because it means something different to everyone. Not a constant. I like words like
I think there is more commitment in these words. Love you is so easy to say and so hard to pin down.
How about good health? You really do need that for happiness. I won’t mention money – so many rich people are not happy, although I do not think it is the money’s fault.
l-o-v-e is misused and overused. Oh yes, and what about ‘you’re wonderful’. Someone said that to me recently and I felt 40 feet high and floating.
Your expressiveness is beyond reproach and a great gift. Look forward to the next WW.
Luv (oops), Joan
Tammy - Hi Joan, I am always happy to agree to disagree. Love is not a word I use cavalierly. It is not overused in my world. But I understand where you are coming from. Words like “caring”, “cherish”, “sympatico” carry less weight to me. BUT, that’s to me. Whatever word you choose to describe the emotion and connection does not change the outcome of the study. Love, in any language or definition, is still love. And while it may be difficult to pin down, the commitment that comes with it, isn’t. It’s either there, or it’s not. And yes, I luv you too!!! As always, Joan, thanks for being here!
Carol Cassara - I’m in the camp that believes love can be many things, including maternal … so however it shows up, I think it IS the key!
Tammy - Hi Carol, we are in the same camp! Love manifests love which manifest happiness. Did we really need a 75 year study to tell us that? Evidently. So happy you popped in for the read. Thanks for that!
Maritza Quintana - Great article!!!!
Karen - This strikes me as right, Tammy.
For me, being loved is less important than loving–I like myself better, I feel happier, I am at peace with myself when I love. Receiving it is great too, not talking that down at all, but I feel like if it’s not reciprocal, the meaning can get lost.
Ande Lyons - LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Goddess Tammy!
Since worthiness is the #1 challenge for unhappiness, it makes sense that LOVE… especially SELF LOVE… is the real key to happiness! Even for male Harvard Grads! (I thought just being a Harvard grad = unlimited happiness! ;-D )
Yes – LOVE is a huge umbrella with many splendid facets. Love for a Beloved is delicious; Love for a child is glorious; Love for one’s work/calling is divine; Love of life is magnificent.
Thanks for sharing the LOVE!!
Tammy - Hi Ande! You, my darling are clearly the goddess of love! And I love you for that (giggle)! Have you ever noticed that when you love who you’re with, what you do, where you are … that it always comes back to you? Still, I would have thought that the secret to happiness would somehow along the way have involved cold hard cash. Obviously I’m a lot more jaded than I thought. Thank you. For you. Really!
Jessica Bern - Thank you for this. I cannot being to tell you how much I agree. I am divorced and that lack of love, nearly got the best of me many times.
Kitt Crescendo - It always saddens me a little bit when I run into people who don’t realize or choose not to recognize that people are more important than things.
I think my favorite sentence in your whole post was “Love found me despite myself.” How true is that? I’ve come to the conclusion that we are master self saboteurs, and most of the time it’s completely unintentional.
It seems we are great at stepping in it and can’t seem to get out of our own way. I firmly believe it’s because of this little problem that some of the best relationships are the ones you don’t seek out, but find you.
Tammy - Hi Jessica, I hear you, I feel you, I was you. For years. Tough business going about the day to day feeling disconnected from all that love offers. Nothing is forever, right?! Happy that you appreciated the read, but happier still that you are here! Thanks for that.
Tammy - Kit, okay, you are being all wise and stuff and I love it. Yup, love did find me despite myself. I was not looking, not wanting, not expecting and certainly not willing to give up anything for it. Fortunately for me, the wonderful man who came my way was a lot more patient than I would have been. Blessings come at the strangest times. Once I got out of my own way, opened my heart, it all fell into place. I am grateful. Every. Single. Day. Have I told you lately that its awesome knowing you’re on the other side of my blog? Yeah, cuz it is!
Tammy - Hi Karen, I totally understand! I think it’s a woman thing. We are caregivers. It’s what makes our hearts sing. Purpose. Yes, I SO agree, if it’s not reciprocal, well that’s the saddest thing of all. Here’s hoping your heart sings from here to eternity with love. Lots of it!
Cynthia Greene Jordan - I so agree Tammy….and happy that we both found love.
Doug Kurtz - Thanks for the great post, Tammy. Your blog is super entertaining and informative. I’m loving it.