George E. Vaillant, the Director Emeritus of the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development, summed up one of the results of that study with “Happiness is love. Full stop.”
It is a study thus runs for more than 75 years and is one of the most known and comprehensive longitudinal studies of its kind. It followed over 700 men from their late teens until way into their eighties and nineties. Among other things, it tracked their emotional well-being. It lead to the conclusion that love is the most important component to a long, happy, and healthy life.
To be able to use this conclusion though there is one thing to be considered. That’s the way we understand and seek love or happiness.
It’s rarely the case and if it is found, it still is only a starting block. Love just as happiness results from practice, from seeking to build a relationship and investing in it.
The thing is, that love needs to be nurtured every day. It has to stay alive. It has to deal with all the doubts, flaws or other obstacles we discover along the way.
Love requires commitment, the willingness to engage in the relationship, to be genuinely interested or concerned about it. It’s the same for a person or something we are interested in like a project. Once we care about it we are also willing to stick to it, that is being present in that relationship. It’s not an easy task when life provides for so many opportunities and distractions. Nor when we are questioning ourselves if we are making the right choices. It’s easy to have a place we’d want to be in mind or to assume that there is another place where we would need to be. It’s difficult to decide to be there where we are, to be fully present in that relationship. It’s what happiness and love require to exist.