Happiness Is Love | The Men Of The Harvard Grant Study

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A Study was done on 268 Harvard grads over a 75 year period to assess possible predictors of healthy aging.  The main result above all else that led to the most fulfillment and satisfaction in life was: warmth of relationships.  “Happiness is love. Full Stop.”

“The 75 years and 20 million dollars expended on the Grant study points…to a straight forward 5 word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop”

-George Vaillant

Here are the main findings:

  • Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power.
    • Alcoholism was the main cause of divorce between the Grant Study men and their wives.
    • Strongly correlates with neurosis and depression, which tended to follow alcohol abuse, rather than precede it.
    • Together with associated cigarette smoking, was the single greatest contributor to their early morbidity and death.
  • Financial success depends on warmth of relationships and, above a certain level, not on intelligence.
    • Those who scored highest on measurements of “warm relationships” earned an average of $141,000 a year more at their peak salaries (usually between ages 55 and 60).
    • No significant difference in maximum income earned by men with IQs in the 110–115 range and men with IQs higher than 150.
  • Political mindedness correlates with intimacy: Aging liberals have more sex.
    • The most-conservative men ceased sexual relations at an average age of 68.
    • The most-liberal men had active sex lives into their 80s.
  • The warmth of childhood relationship with mothers matters long into adulthood:
    • Men who had “warm” childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men whose mothers were uncaring.
    • Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.
    • Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
    • The warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on “life satisfaction” at 75.
  • The warmth of childhood relationship with fathers correlated with:
    • Lower rates of adult anxiety.
    • Greater enjoyment of vacations.
    • Increased “life satisfaction” at age 75.

Harvard Grant Study: Long Term Study On Happiness



Deuteronomy 7:23
“But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed.”

1 Corinthians 14:33
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace”

In my reading, it sounds like God is a God of peace…but only to those who are faithful.  Or that God’s intrinsic character is one marked by peace, but that maybe the peace he gives to man is contingent on man’s faithfulness.  So then if I am confused or not at peace it’s because I am unfaithful?

The thing is…I feel like I’m really trying to understand him, but it seems the more I pursue knowledge and wisdom and seek to understand him the more I uncover the paradoxical, and the more I recognize how much I don’t know and possibly could never hope to know of infinite things via a finite mind.  Sure I can and do eventually come to understand some things, but in that journey, usually, when I cut off the head of one it becomes two and I am ultimately more confused than when I started.  Sometimes the only thing I really feel like I’m solidifying is that confusion is necessarily a part of the, or my, christian experience.  It’s commonly said that ignorance is bliss, and even Socrates affirms: the more you know the more you don’t know.  So is my confusion really wholly a result of being unfaithful, self-centered, or legalistic in my pursuit of truth?  Or is an increasing level of intellectual vexation a natural byproduct of acquiring knowledge and understanding?  Is it really the case, if pressing on to know our God is considered faithful and confusion is tied to lack of faith, that the more faithful I seek to be, the more unfaithful I seem to become?  Perhaps…confusion, at least as it pertains to 1 Cor 14:33, can be seen more as chaos or an uncomfortably chaotic life, cognitively or otherwise.  Maybe, we can in fact embrace confusion, knowing that though we feel inadequate or incapable of intentionally and correctly applying some seemingly encrypted spiritual principles to everyday decision making, at the end of the day God is sovereign and we can have faith that God will take care of us regardless, which produces a peace that surpasses understanding.  But even this, even a marriage of peace and confusion, seems to contradict their mutual exclusivity in the statement “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

Christian Boundaries?

1 John 4:10
“This is how we know love: that He sent his son as a sacrifice.”

Philipians 2:5-8
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus […] he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant […] he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”

The idea of maintaining healthy “boundaries” (as popularized in the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud) while embracing a Christian worldview based in sacrificial love, has always seemed highly paradoxical to me.

I can understand not sacrificing for someone if it’s in their best interest, as is commonly the case in dealing with addictive behavior for example, but I would classify that as tough love more so than boundaries.  Maybe I’m just getting too caught up in the semantics, but I feel like boundaries has a somewhat self serving connotation as it considers relationships from the point of view of protecting one’s own self, which seems to conflict with humility and capitulation to the point of “death, even death on a cross”.



So, I was having a conversation with my coworker today about the famous verse-

Revelation 3:16
“Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

What does lukewarm mean?  Is it really referring to a half-hearted christian? Can anyone really be whole-hearted or perfectly mature? If possibly by his death we are made whole-hearted then can there even be lukewarm? And what about balance?  To desire change or improvement we must necessarily be discontent to some degree with the current status quo.  To be hot or on fire for Jesus then, it seems we would seek constant and as drastic improvement as possible which would mean we would want to be as discontent as possible with our current state.  Anything less, to me, seems like it would fall within the in-between of hot and cold.  It could be warmer or colder than lukewarm if lukewarm is the center, but it would still reside on the spectrum and not at one of the polar ends (“neither hot nor cold”).  I may just be splitting hairs here now but hopefully you get my gist: basically, to be considered hot, it would seem one would need to embrace an unbalanced degree of discontentment, and to me that seems unhealthy.  Definition aside, it also seems like it would be better to at least affirm the Triune God rather than to not acknowledge him at all or be a ‘no-hearted’ or ‘less-than-lukewarm-hearted’ christian.  Anyway, just trying to think this one through cause it doesn’t jive well with my experiential understanding, and has therefore always been hard to apply to practical everyday life.


Righteous greed…interesting concept.

“You want to bring back someone that you’ve lost, you might want money, maybe you want women, or you might want to protect the world…You humans think that greed is just for money and power, but everyone wants something they don’t have.”

-Greed, Full Metal Alchemist


“But he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile. “So you think money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Aconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money?…You’re wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money…To trade by means of money is the code of men of goodwill…Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it…wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality…Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants…Money is a living power that dies without its root…But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money?

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged