A 75-Year Study Said This is the One Thing That Leads to Happiness


Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

We all want to be happy.

At least, that's what we claim.

How often, though, do we ever do the things that will make us happy?

A few years ago, I wrote about a seminal study from Harvard University.

Having closely followed a group of human beings for 75 years, the study concluded that the best, sure path to happiness was the quality of one's human relationships.

If they're good, we're happy. If they're not, we're not.

And there you were thinking that money could do that for you. Or, perhaps, success.

That's why you work so hard.

Well, perhaps you need to work harder on your friendships.

I only mention this because of a new piece of research that may make you reconsider your priorities.

Performed by OnePoll on behalf of Evite, the study wanted to understand how Americans behave socially.

One statistic leaps out as a painful symbol of what we have become: The average American hasn't made a new friend for five years.

You might think this isn't a disaster. After all, many of our closest friendships come from our formative years.

Our best friends are the ones who have known us the longest. Or, at least, that's what we like to tell ourselves, even if we hardly ever see those friends.

And please don't tell me that regular Facebook contact is good as good as actually seeing those to whom you're closest.

Still, I can't help thinking that everyone needs to create new friendships in order to gain new perspectives and new bonds. This can help you rise above your own daily problems and work stresses, and walk toward true happiness.

This research of 2,000 Americans suggested painful reasons why friendships are so hard to come by.

While 45 percent of the respondents said they really, really would go out of their way to find a new friend, many cited the demands of family, the lack of hobbies and moving to a new city as reasons.

No, one certainly can't rely on family members to provide friendship. Even if it's uplifting when they do.

But the lack of hobbies suggests many Americans feel their time is taken by the twin demands of family and work. Or just work.

Yet if many insist they would go out of their way to find new friendships, it also suggests that Americans don't know how to do it.

Yes, of course Evite is peddling this research in order for people to embrace the joys of Evite.

But there does feel like a tantalizing truth lurking beneath.

Apparently, the average American has a mere five friends that they like to meet with one-on-one.

But at any given time, how many of those friends are available when you're in the mood to hang out? Or when you need reassurance or advice?

Don't we all need a few more?

Ah, if only we knew where to find them.

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