What Makes You Happy?

Mar 31, 2016

What makes you happy?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Happiness and general self-confidence and positivity was something that came fairly easy to me in the past. I’d worry like any other person but it never felt out of hand or even close to despair. But this past year I think I’ve found myself struggling with a more serious anxiety and depression.

I watched this video recently in which psychiatrist Robert Waldinger discusses a study on happiness done by Harvard over the course of 75 years.  They found some interesting correlations between life long happiness and human connections.

None of the conclusions were that earth shattering, and it seems like their findings should be common sense, but the study pointed out that happiness doesn’t have to be complicated or based on fortune or position.

Basically what it all boils down to is the quality of our close connections. They noticed that participants who were more socially connected were happier, physically healthier and they lived longer than those who were less connected. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy and that their health declines earlier in mid-life. Sounds pretty simple right?

But it’s not really as easy as it sounds. Making friends as an adult can be hard.  Everyone grows up, get married, start careers, move away. Earlier in life, as a kid, it’s usually easier to form connections with people simple because of general proximity…If you’re on the soccer team you see each other at practice 5 days a week and on the weekends. If you go to school together, or college together, if you’re in the same major, or work at the same job … these are all opportunities that are built into society according to where you’re at in life that give you the chance to meet and connect with people.

In school I always felt like I had a good amount of friends. I considered myself a “floater” where I had close friends in different groups and we connected over various mutual interests. But as more years pass from graduation, life moves ever forward. Friends get married, they start poppin out babies, and suddenly we’re at totally different stages at life.
Thankfully it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of friends or even whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, what really matters is the quality of those close relationships.
Being a friend takes work. The old saying really is true, to make a friend you have to be a friend. It takes initiative and putting yourself out there. How have you made friends as an adult?