In 1938, Harvard started a study to determine what the key to happiness is. They took a group of 263 men and, over the course of their lives, asked them questions about their overall health and well-being. After going through 80 years worth of research, researchers came to the conclusion that happiness isn’t about money or fame – it’s about the connections we have with other people. The study revealed that men who kept close relationships with people throughout their lives had a slower mental and physical decline than those who didn’t. Men with strong social connections were predicted to have better life-long happiness than their social class or even their genetics would predict. Robert Waldinger, now the 4th director of the study, said in a TED Talk, “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
The Harvard study may have revealed what happiness is, but why is it still so hard for people to achieve it? I think what’s most to blame is society’s standards. When we’re young, we’re told that in order to be successful, we need to follow the rules and get good grades. Then, we go off to college, get a job, get married, have kids. Society says that once we reach these milestones in life, we’ll be happy. But why do we have to follow these steps to achieve happiness? Don’t we deserve to be happy now?
The media also makes an impact on our happiness. They say that men and women have to play certain roles in order to “fit in.” Girls have to have the perfect body and guys have to be the “stronger ones.” Will we be happy if we look and act a certain way? The media also says that we have to have the biggest house, the coolest car, the latest clothes. We believe that these materialistic things will bring us happiness over anything else. However, do those items actually make us happy? Or are we just trying to impress people?
With a rise in technology, people communicate differently compared to 20-30 years ago. Back then, people had to communicate face-to face. But nowadays, it’s easy to connect to thousands of people online.
Now, I’m not saying that all media is bad. I think we just need to be aware of how it affects our mindset and our relationship with others. Appreciate what you have and what’s around you. Go out with friends. Talk to family. Bring the people who mean the most to you closer. Stop listening to society’s expectations and stop comparing yourself to others. Then maybe one day, you’ll be happy.
I remember sophomore year of high school I got my first C. I remember my parents opening my report card and immediately getting upset with me. They told me that I wouldn’t go into a good college with that grade in my transcript. I didn’t want to disappoint them so, I spent my days and nights studying, asked my teacher for additional help just trying desperately to raise my grade.
After I raised my grade, I felt this sense of relief but also twinge of sadness. While I was at home doing my work, my friends were out having fun. I missed hanging out with my sister who was just 2 years old.I know my parents only want the best for me but I put all the things I love to do aside just to get my grade up. I felt like I missed out on a lot on things that makes me happy/a teenager. That was the first time I realized that school became my top priority over my happiness.
I get it. Getting into college is hard. Being a teenager, in general, is hard. In high school, we dedicate ourselves to our classes, our extracurriculars, our sports, etc. We prioritize getting good scores on our tests such as the the SATs and the ACTs over our well-being. We stay up late at night. We barely have time for ourselves anymore. Then there are social pressures. Girls and guys have to look and act a certain way. We spend all our time, trying to get into college while at the same time, trying to find ourselves and “fitting in.” But we’re forgetting what’s really important: our own happiness and our mental health.
We think that happiness will be achieved later on in life. But that is wrong.
Happiness and mental health is very important. It should be prioritized over everything you do because it affects our performance in school. We need to talk more about this because young people are the future.