Almost 80 years ago, Harvard began the Study of Adult Development to better understand the factors that lead to a long, healthy, and happy life. Business Insider then analyzed the results of the study and came up with six things that can help people live longer and be happier.
We have previously written on the first two keys to the good life, avoiding tobacco and alcohol and getting a college education. Now we will break down the third thing that Harvard and Business Insider say is the secret to a longer, happier life: a happy childhood.
The Study of Adult Development determined that it wasn’t parental income or status that affected children into adulthood but whether or not they felt loved by their parents. Additionally, how well a child adjusted in junior high could affect their future. Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time to re-do your childhood, but if you didn’t have a happy childhood and it is affecting you now, there are some things you can do to move forward productively.
In his book, director of the Study of Adult Development, George E. Valliant, says that although a happy childhood can set us up for success, an unhappy one doesn’t doom us. If love and support come later in your life, in the form of friends or a romantic partner, the damage of a rough childhood can be reversed. Even a good marriage at age 50 predicted positive aging at 80.
“It is not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people who happen to us at any age that facilitate enjoyable old age,” says Valliant. So your past doesn’t have to determine the success of your present and future relationships. You just have to remember that there are other aspects of a relationship that you need to nourish besides love, including:
In our next post on this study, we will dive deeper into the importance of relationships and emotional intelligence. So if you are interested in learning more about how to build a solid relationship, stay tuned.
Because this study has determined how important love is to a child’s adult development, another thing you can do is help make sure your children get the support they need. You can do this by actively listening to them, verbally praising them often, and encouraging their goals and aspirations.
You can also make sure to regularly spend time with your children. Your attention will help them understand how much you want them to succeed, increasing their chances of a happy and healthy life down the road.
All relationships take work, whether they are platonic, romantic, or family relationships. But the work that you put in will reap great rewards in the form of mental and physical health.
To learn more about your mental health, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist.