Friday Reflections – Discovering True Happiness

Friday Reflections. Discovering True Happiness with a Father and Son chat.

I was talking to my son about what he wants to do when he’s older and sadly, I guess he is like many 15-year-olds and just wants a shortcut to success and become a TikTok influencer – he sees this as a quick route to make money. It’s the get-rich-quick element that attracts him to this “career”. Firstly I explained my suspicion that successful TikTok’ers (is that a word?) have to work extremely hard to build their platform and that, secondly and more importantly money isn’t the path to happiness. He didn’t buy this.

I referred him to a longest-running study into Happiness – the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The research started in 1938 and has since followed 724 participants throughout their life. They purposely picked people from various economic and social backgrounds and followed them from adolescence to old age. They collected data on the participants every two years covering their health, and their mental and emotional well-being, they sent questionnaires to capture information about their lives, their jobs, and their relationships; even interviewing their family members.

Spanning over 80 years the study found that happiness wasn’t the result, as my son would believe of money or career success. However, it did find that there were a number of factors that clearly increased happiness across the entire group.

The most prominent about relationships – where people had close relationships and social connections with their spouses, friends and colleagues they were happier. These close social connections not only boosted their moods they also acted as a buffer against the stresses of everyday life and even protected the participant’s health. Participants with close social relationships have lower rates of diabetes, arthritis and other chronic conditions.

But these relationships don’t take care of themselves participants who proactively cultivated their relationships, actively staying in touch with friends, letting go of negative relationships and continually nurturing their connections with family reaped the benefits.

So I told my son if he wants to be happy he just needs to appreciate spending more time with me. I think he still wants to be a TikTok’er.