Happiness is Love

Valentine hearts and loving actions

The famous Harvard study that followed graduates of the years 1939 to 1944 throughout their lives (some of them for over 70 years) found that those who were happiest had love – close personal relationships.  "Love is happiness," said the study's lead psychologist, Dr. George Vaillant.  "Happiness is love.  Full stop."

In other words, anything that substitutes for human relationships in your life is a bad trade.  You will sacrifice happiness if you crowd out relationships with work, politics, social media, material consumption, or anything else.

Our society encourages us to love things and use people.  We're expected to have ever-increasing lists of things we want to buy and do and places we want to go.  But it's possible for us to achieve everything on our lists while missing out on close relationships.  That's a formula for loneliness, depression, bad health, maybe even alcoholism or other addictions.

So get this straight:  Love people.  Use things.

And how do you show your love?  Remember that buying and giving a gift is only one of the many possible ways.  Yes, a carefully chosen, truly appropriate gift can bring the receiver a lot of joy and provide something that they will cherish for many years, maybe forever.  But your loved one will also remember the time and undivided attention you give, the loving words you speak, the ways you listen and help, the sincere appreciation you show, and the happy times you share together, whether that means a simple walk and talk or something more elaborate.

And maybe this can go without saying, but one day devoted to a conspicuous show of love doesn't make up for 364 days of distraction and neglect, right?  Love every day.

Here's the moral:  Love is everything.  Money can't buy it, and actions speak louder than gifts.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


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