The three things that lead to a long and happy life

What do you need to live a long fulfilled life? These three simple things

Friends with a dog in the park

Photo: Masterfile

The best things in life truly are free, and the key to living a long and happy life may be a lot simpler than all those glossy celebrity magazines would have us believe.

For starters, you don’t need to lose the baby weight in six weeks to live a fulfilled life. And you can strike the word ‘sexy’ from your vocabulary — you won’t need to think about it when you walk your yellow Lab through the park, while laughing with a pal.

What do you need to live a long fulfilled life? Three simple things: love, companionship and commitment. A 74-year-long study by researchers at Harvard Medical School suggests that a dog, a happy marriage, and a supportive social network are the foundations of a long life.

Even more significant: these factors were found to be greater predictors of longevity than social class, wealth and various other forms of socio-economic advantage.

The study, which is discussed in a recent article in the Daily Mail, took the long view of human existence. Called the Grant Study, it began in 1940 and followed 268 healthy, single white men from their youth to old age.

Every couple of years, the researchers checked in with the men to record any changes. Evaluations included physical testing and interviews. Over time, the researchers established a link between these three factors and longer life among the men.

For George Vaillant, the study’s current director, the research makes a declarative statement about what constitutes a full life and the nature of true happiness.

Vaillant is quoted as saying: “The finding on happiness is that happiness is the wrong word. The right words for happiness are emotional intelligence, relationships, joy, connections and resilience.”

If you don’t have a husband, a family or plenty of supportive pals at the moment, don’t worry about it. The study also proved that it’s never too late to find these pieces of the miracle of life puzzle.

Said Vaillant: “Having a loving family is terribly important, but from 70 to 90 years old you’d be surprised at the people who, despite enormous deprivation, manage to find love later on.”

What gives you the most happiness in life?