Relationships are key to happiness


The secret to adult happiness may lie in the positive social relationships formed during childhood.

Relationships, not academics, create happiness

Researchers investigated the origins of well-being in adulthood based on experiences during childhood and adolescence. For all the worrying that parents do about academic achievement, academic achievement seems to have little impact on adult happiness levels.

The team started by defining adult well-being as a combination of characteristics, including positive coping strategies, social engagement and self-perceived strength. They then evaluated data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (DMHDS) in New Zealand which had 804 participants tracked for 32 years.

Social connectedness is the key

The researchers narrowed their focus to measuring the relationship between socioeconomic status, social connectedness and language development in childhood, as well as social connectedness and academic achievement during adolescence and well-being in adulthood. Social connectedness in childhood was measured by parent and teacher ratings of whether the child was liked, not a loner and confident. While as an adolescent, connectedness was defined as the social attachment with parents, other teens, school, and participating in group activities.

Money and education not indicators for happiness

Researchers found a strong pathway from childhood social connectedness to adolescent connectedness to adult well-being. On the other hand, language development to academic achievement to adult well-being was weak by comparison. They also found no link between socioeconomic prosperity and adult happiness. So it appears that the path to adult happiness begins with relationships.

“If these pathways are separate, then positive social development across childhood and adolescence requires investments beyond development of the academic curriculum,” concluded the report.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Happiness Studies


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