So I came across the Harvard Adult Development Project led by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger. I was interested in the fact that our memory is not perfect, and often we cannot remember in detail what happened to us 15, 20, 30 years ago. However, even if we recall, then in a distorted version, far from the original. We forget a lot of what happened to us in reality, and our memory thinks out reality. But on our memories we draw conclusions about how our life was – happy or unhappy. How to determine the truth: what affects happiness in our lives? What if it could be traced? On a global scale, this is unrealistic, but in a research format it turned out to be quite possible.
A research project was launched in 1938. The fourth generation of scientists has been working on it, and for 75 years, year after year, they have observed the lives of 724 men. The participants were divided into two groups. The first was second-year students at Harvard College. The second group – guys from the poorest areas of Boston. At the beginning of the study, all young men underwent interviews and a physical examination. Every two years, project staff sent survey participants questionnaires to fill out, conducted personal conversations at their home, made observations, and met with their children. Conversations with participants were recorded on video. As a result, one of the guys became a laborer, some became a dentist, a lawyer, and some became an alcoholic, schizophrenic. Some climbed the social ladder from the bottom, one became the president of the United States, while others descended from the peaks below the baseboard.
And only after 75 years the results of the study were published. And what do you think, what conclusions have scientists made about what makes us happy? Not hard work, not wealth, but only one thing – good relationships with other people.