The Secrets to Happiness, Health and Longevity

The Secrets to Happiness, Health and Longevity

Eighty-five years ago, researchers at Harvard embarked on a decades-long study to figure out what really drives happiness, health and longevity.

The results are in, but before we share them with you, we wanted to share what the wise women and men of Merion Mercy Academy concluded are the keys:

"Love and relationships" —Daniel Badgio, Mathematics Teacher and Department Chair

“I am sure many folks who gravitate to non-profit work might define happiness a bit differently than the narrative contemporary media bombards us with. So...(and let's see the results of the research)...I would guess happiness has very little to do with status and material goods and a whole lot to do with life-affirming relationships, gratitude, being present for others, and purpose.” —Krissy Cawley, Assistant Director of Advancement

"Family" —Lucille Donnelly, Admissions Associate

"Family" —Rita Gian, Cafeteria Staff

"Healthy relationships with others, and a strong faith in God" —Anne Gregg, Assistant to the Head of School

"Love, purpose, independence, and really good art" —Ashley Halpern, Admissions Associate

"Gratefulness" —Sally McGovern, Assistant to Counseling and Summer Programs

"Laughter and lots of dancing!" —Chris Penezic, Director of Strategic Marketing

"Faith, relationships (meaningful connections), sense of purpose, sense of humor, ability to forgive and let go, to hold things lightly, just to be, simplicity, and positivity" —Sister Anna Saltzman

"Belonging and the strength of social relationships and connectedness" —Philip Vinogradov, Director of Innovation, Teaching, and Learning

Our Merion Mercy faculty and staff are an insightful group! The answer to what drives happiness, health and longevity is close relationships with family and friends—not wealth, exercise or success at work—that bring us the most joy and even lengthen our lives.

It's widely reported that Americans value family and work, but friendship often falls behind. The data shows that many of us have few or no close confidants.

  • 27% of millennials say they have no close friends, and 22% say they have no friends at all, according to a recent YouGov survey.
  • Americans also lost touch with many of their friends when COVID hit, an American Enterprise Institute study found.

On top of the lack of friendships, there's a growing group of Americans who are aging without a spouse or a partner, any children or siblings.

The solution? Think about improving your "social fitness," CNBC reports.

  • It's not enough to just let familial relationships or friendships develop on their own. These need care, attention and exercise.

Here are four tips, from the news source Axios:

  1. Check in. We way underestimate how much the simplest text or call means to our friends, family members and colleagues.
  2. Find the hours. It takes around 50 hours of time spent together to go from being acquainted to being casual friends. It takes about 90 hours to advance from casual pals to good friends, and it takes more than 200 hours to become confidants, research shows.

  3. Go back in time. Our anxiety can prevent us from reaching back out to an old friend with whom we've lost touch. But reviving those dormant ties can do us a lot of good.

  4. Diversify. The ideal number of close friends to have is between three and five. Don't underestimate the value of casual friends or work/school buddies. Those in our larger circle can bring fresh perspectives.

The bottom line is this: Life is short. Cultivate and lean on those relationships with family and friends!

And if you have advice to share on this topic, please do so in the comment section below.