Secrets To Being a Happy, Successful Man
What men experience at a young age has a causal influence on their success and happiness later in life, according to the Grant Study, a longitudinal project that began studying men in 1938. Researchers wanted to know what factors led to an “optimum life”, by asking the same men questions every year about everything from their habits to their health.
What are the predictors of a man having a successful, happy life? Some of the findings:
- Warm relationships. Men who were successful and happy had a supportive childhood and warm adult relationships. Men who had a good relationship with at least one sibling made $51,000 more per year than those that had poor relationships with their siblings or no siblings.
- Loving Fathers. Men who had loving fathers had a greater capacity to play, had less anxiety and stress in young adulthood, and adjusted easier to retirement.
- Positive virtues. Men with an optimum life had warm, social personalities during their college years. Practicality and organization were the strongest predictors of mental health in middle-age.
- Strong marriages. Men who were the happiest and most successful stayed married for most of their lives. However, most of the men who were divorced and remarried were still married for an average of 30 years. By the age of 85, 76% of men said they had happy marriages.
What if some of these predictors were absent in a man’s life? George Vaillant, who has directed the study for the past several decades, noted that it was not what happened in childhood itself as much as what men “did with a loving or bleak childhood.” Further, the study revealed that men, regardless of their childhood and young adult lives, could continue to grow and mature throughout their years—especially if they sought and exercised virtuous traits. The message to young men is clear: what you do now impacts the rest of your life.
The full study has been compiled into a book, Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study.