What do you need to do to be happy?

I’ve had this theory of happiness (or at least what I think I need to be happy) for some time now. Long-suffering friends have had to listen to my ideas that are part-Frankl, part pseudo-science, part observation and part admission about the good and dark in my own soul. Ready ? It’s quite simple, really.

The keys to happiness are : Meaning, Belonging and Someone. No, I’m not going to expound on it here. You can buy me a beer if you want the full explanation.

By contrast, the Atlantic has an amazing article on a journalist who has managed to gain access to Harvard’s 72-year longitudinal study following 268 men since the 1930s on how various aspects and events in their lives affected their happiness. Even Kennedy was a member of the original Grant Study (though his dossier has been withdrawn and sealed till 2040 rather fascinatingly).

While seemingly anachronistic and dated in a way for its initial focus on Freudian adaptations, the study and its curator have since found new life in the modern era as a kind of godfather for the positive psychology movement, and its deep data and reflections on the lives of its subjects and long-running nature has of course yielded jewels and verifications in terms of what you may need in order to broker your own happiness.

The piece is also a rather fascinating reflection on the study’s curator, and on the depth of the data it has and the power of the life stories it seeks to tell. And, perhaps, an interesting reflection on the nature of happiness itself and a questioning of whether being content and mere low expectations are more important than a continual sense of questing and striving.