I want to highlight a fascinating study of Harvard graduates that is discussed in this article. The study, which has taken place over 75 years, looks at the lives of 268 men and studies how their lives have turned out.
When Vaillant crunched the numbers, he discovered no significant relationship between a man’s level of flourishing and his IQ, his body type (mesomorph, ectomorph, endomorph), or the income and education level of his parents.
The factors that did loom large, and collectively predicted all ten Decathlon events, had one thing in common: relationships. This rubric included:
*A warm, supportive childhood
*A mature “coping style” (being able to roll with the punches, be patient with others, keep a sense of humor in the face of setbacks, delay gratification, etc.)
*Overall “soundness” as evaluated during college years (resilient, warm personality, social, not overly sensitive)
Warm adult relationships between the ages of 37-47 (having close friends, maintaining contact with family, being active in social organizations)
*Vaillant found that the men who had the best scores in these areas during their youth and mid-life, were the happiest, most successful, and best adjusted in their latter years. This is the finding of the Grant Study that has emerged most prominently: “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”
There are people reading this who are saying to themselves, “duh, nothing could be more obvious.” But hold on a second. I want you to stop and ponder how many General Conference talks over the years have emphasized these features. How many times have prophets and other speakers emphasized the importance of family, of giving time to your children, of loving your children? How often have they emphasized being patient and keeping a sense of humor during rough times? How often have they talked about the importance of doing your calling and your home and visiting teaching (which is, at the end of the day, about maintaining relationships)?
Indeed, if there is a primary message from General Conference it is: love God and Jesus Christ and love your fellow man. And it turns out that the people who actually do this are the happiest and most successful in real life.