What do you think are the keys to true happiness and life satisfaction?
When a large group of millennials was asked to share their most important life goals, eighty percent said they wanted to be rich. Fifty percent said they wanted to be famous. They believed these two things would promise them the greatest chance for happy, fulfilled lives.
And of course, it’s not only millennials who long for those things.
What if we could study a large group of people from adolescence all the way through old age, meeting with them every two years, surveying them in their homes and workplaces, asking them about their sense of happiness and satisfaction?
For 75 years, researchers followed a large group of teenagers and young men from different backgrounds and social classes who signed up for a Harvard University study on adult development. Those men, too, wanted financial riches and to be known for their accomplishments.
In 2016, when this Ted Talk was presented, the study was still ongoing and included the wives and children of the original men.
What the researchers have discovered about the keys to happiness and satisfaction — and what happens to people who don’t have those keys (which are available to all of us) — may surprise you.