The Happiness Connection  

Satisfaction is the key

My parents are celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary this week.

When I was a child, the thing that stood out most to me about their wedding was the date. Who chooses a Friday the 13th for a wedding day?

There is an interesting story behind their choice. When my father joined the RCMP, they only admitted single men, who were not allowed to marry until they had been in the force for seven years. He and my mother met in high school, so it seemed like an eternity of waiting.

When the RCMP reduced the waiting time to five years, it was exciting news. My dad was approaching that anniversary, and my mom wanted to be married as soon as possible. The first date she could secure the church was Friday, Nov. 13, 1953.

Being married to, and living with, the same person for 64 years is no easy feat. Marriage takes effort and energy. When the going gets tough, you may wonder whether you have made a mistake, and chosen the wrong person.

Some couples decide to end their relationship only to wonder years later if they gave up too soon. Other people stay together, but continue to experience difficult times. They wonder if they should have gone their separate ways.

Regardless of your choice, you will never know if you made the right decision because you can’t go back in time and make a different one. There is no magic ball or easy answer.

There is, however, research that shows creating happy relationships is worth the effort.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest running studies on health and happiness. It has been tracking mental and physical health, as well as the personal and professional successes, and failures of its participants for almost 80 years.

The study began in 1938 with 268 Harvard sophomores. All the subjects were men, because at that time, women were not admitted into the college. Nineteen of the original subjects are still alive, but the pool of participants has been widened to include the offspring of these men.

This rich resource of information has allowed scientists to study the correlation between relationships and health. They discovered evidence to show it isn’t your genetic makeup, social class, or IQ that determines your good health and long life; it is the satisfaction you have with your relationships.

According to Robert Waldinger, the director of this study, the people who were most satisfied with their relationship at age 50, were the healthiest at age 80.

Health and longevity is a multi-billion-dollar industry. You will find advice and products to help you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and obtain adequate amounts of sleep. But perhaps these companies are missing the most important factor, and should be focusing more on ways to help you nurture your relationships.

According to the data collected, these close connections play a larger role in achieving a long and happy life than your genetic makeup, social class, or IQ.

If you are single, don’t despair. It isn’t just your relationship with your spouse that makes you happy. Your connection with family members and friends also contribute to good health, and longevity.

In a time when the average marriage lasts 13.7 years (Statistics Canada), I think my parents have reached a remarkable milestone. As they are in their late 80s, still living in their own home, and both relatively healthy, I’m inclined to agree with the findings of the Harvard study.

Cheers mom and dad. May you continue to be happy and healthy together.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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