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MHAPS Momentum Newsletter: Winter 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017   Posted in: Newsletters By: Administrator With tags: newsletter, Community Groups, mental health, support

5 research-backed lessons on what makes for a happy life

by Robert John Waldinger MD. Published in the Harvard Medical Publications.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be able to look at people’s entire adult lives? Not asking older people to remember, but starting with them as teenagers and tracking their health and well-being until they die? We’ve been lucky enough to do this for the past 78 years, starting in the late 1930s and early ‘40s with a group of men who agreed to be part of one of the longest studies of adult life ever done.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development has tracked the lives of 724 men from the time they were teenagers into old age — 268 Harvard College sophomores, and 456 boys from Boston’s inner city. Using questionnaires, interviews, medical records, and scans of blood and brains, we’ve monitored their physical and mental health, work lives, friendships, and romances.

Here are a couple of the big lessons we’ve learned about what contributes to a good life.

Happy childhoods matter

Having warm relationships with parents in childhood predicts that you will have warmer and more secure relationships with those closest to you in adulthood. We found that warm childhoods reached across decades to predict more secure relationships with spouses at age 80. A close relationship with at least one sibling in childhood predicts that people are less likely to become depressed by age 50. And warmer childhood relationships predict better physical health in adulthood all the way into old age.

Fostering the welfare of the next generation can ease the sting of difficult childhoods

People who grow up in difficult childhood environments (chaotic families, economic uncertainty) grow old less happily than those who have more fortunate childhoods. But by the time these people reach middle age (ages 50 to 65), those who mentor the next generation — guiding younger adults at home or at work — are happier and better adjusted than those who do not. The kind of maturation needed to nurture younger people also seems to reduce some of the sting of growing up disadvantaged.

Read the rest of this article and more in the MHAPS Winter 2017 Momentum Newsletter [PDF].


No automatic alt text available.Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS) provides support services to those with mental illness, addiction or mental distress.

All MHAPS staff have experience with these issues, and can empathise with many of the feelings and thoughts of their clients.

826 Colombo Street, CHRISTCHURCH
Ph: 365 9479 or 0800 437 324
Email: reception[at]mhaps.org.nz

Visit the MHAPS website for more information.

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