When talking to women about anything negative about them, it often helps to talk as if you were talking about her friends. “Don’t you hate when other girls gossip too much?” Instead of “you’re a horrible gossip”. Women are primarily emotional, so if the information provokes negative feelings, her reaction to the information will be negative at worst, dismissive at best.

But I’m not sure that’s the best tack to take for men. Maybe it’s better to be in your face and painful about some negative habits. Because it seems to me that stubborn habits sometimes won’t be broken without a major slap in the face with the fish of reality.

Intimacy is frowned upon, in some circles, and I’ve mentioned before that I view this as a circle jerk of negativity. Yes, strong words. Allright, I’ll stop talking now and the rest of this post will be quotes from here and here.

In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history. The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” — indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become.

In Vallant’s own words, the #1 most important finding from the Grant Study is this: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop.”

Of the 31 men in the study incapable of establishing intimate bonds, only four are still alive. Of those who were better at forming relationships, more than a third are living. It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, ‘What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.’ The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen. In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives. But a childhood does not totally determine a life. The beauty of the Grant Study is that, as Vaillant emphasizes, it has followed its subjects for nine decades. The big finding is that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The men kept changing all the way through, even in their 80s and 90s.

Many of its findings seem universal. If they could be boiled down to a single revelation, it would be that the secret to a happy life is relationships, relationships, relationships.

The importance is stressed of a warm early upbringing as well as the capacity for and receptiveness of intimacy (love.)

and regarding serial monogamy:

Divorce led to happier marriages than the bottom third of sustaining marriages.

and regarding drinking:

…and alcohol use (its abuse being by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects)

Alcoholism had bigger negative impacts than measured by most previous studies. It accounted for more than half of the divorces in the Grant Study. The study shows that it is unlikely that alcoholics can return safely to social drinking

Particularly revealing is the major impact of heredity and the destructive effect of alcoholism on the life history, sometimes emerging only after many years.

Advertisements