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What is the Key to Happiness?

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Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development—a 75-year study on what makes people happy. The study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their children to understand how their childhood experience ultimately affects health and wellbeing into middle age.

This study and the work done by Waldinger captured my attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which includes its primary finding: it is neither money, toys, lavish vacations nor fast cars that make us happy; it is love—with a twist.

Let me explain. The study concluded that deep relationships—knowing and trusting the people with whom we interact and our ability to share our lives with those people—ultimately determines our level of happiness. Interestingly, even those men who bickered with their spouses were still found to be among the happiest because although they bickered, they still had deep loving relationships.

It’s not about the quantity of our relationships, but rather the quality that defines its value in our lives. One deep relationship with one person is far better than multiple superficial ones. Additionally, one bad relationship can affect our mental health in profound and undesirable ways. In fact, the study found that those who were divorced fared better than those who were in bad relationships, while those in strong and loving relationships benefited from better cognitive function well into their older years.

At J2, we believe in building deep relationships with our customers, our vendors and our associates. It is through these relationships—referrals, networking and a commitment to putting others first—that we’ve been able to grow and achieve success. Relationships have always been, and will always be, the foundation on which our business is built.

This study in many ways reaffirms what I already knew to be true: Happiness benefits everyone!

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” — Robert Waldinger

Be happy.

Have a great weekend.