"He was a 33-year-old man, and he had 12 best friends!" Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I stopped handling my own lawn care years ago. For the money I had better things to do with my time. I do have an electric leaf blower for keeping the deck front porch and driveway cleaned off. It is wonderful: no gas mixture, no yanking a cord to start. I even have an electric 16” chain saw that uses the same batteries. Both are quiet as hell and start every time.
I don’t understand people that blow leaves. Just cut them and add free fertilizer to your loan! That's what my lawn care company does. Any left late in the fall get blown into the landscaping for mulch by me with my electric leaf blower.
Hey, I’m enjoying your mini-series on happiness, even though I think today’s points will be old news to people who’ve been paying attention to this “field” (if you can call it a field) for a while. Happiness is one of the great riddles of life, and thus I think we can tolerate returning to ideas and truisms like this again and again. It is the puzzle that can only be solved in the moment, only for that solution to dissipate and need to be solved again. Thanks.
Yes, Jesus had 12 friends, but one of them sold him out and all temporarily abandoned him when the chips were down.
This has been a great series. I appreciate your approach, it shows wisdom, insight, and empathy for your audience. Some of it intertwines with my own experience. I'm wealthy in relationships. I don't have friendships with other men who don't help me be a better man, and vice versa. I find contentment in the fact that I am loved, and I get to love others. What a privilege. As long as I'm here, today, there is opportunity to positively impact those relationships, or seek to build new ones. Even if that relationship is just a momentary greeting passing someone on the street.
I’m glad you pointed out that the surveys were about men. The women I know have no problems with making friends or getting out of friendships that no longer work. Some even take hiatuses from friendships if there’s a point of contention that can’t be solved, then can get back together again when it’s a mute point. Friendships in my life are fluid, some I only connect with every few years but are still secure. Others are more frequent and we go through a lot of issues and still come out strong. Most of the women I know who retire have already planned out what they will do with their time post retirement and often work with charities or animals, many diving into new therapies that have intrigued them or travel. So, from my perspective, women rarely want for friends. Maybe that why statistically they tend to live longer. But as to “why”? My brothers always told me that they envied me my friends. I found that curious, but from what I observed they didn’t have any “good” friends. But my guess is that my women friends can confide in each other. My brothers took no counsel and thought reinventing the wheel was more manly. I just found that odd.
A common bond. We have a common bond to link each of us; to help each of us; to pray for each of us. We have a common bond in which we can relate, in which we can abuse the others; in which we can sympathize with each other. A common bond. We meet, we exercise, we compare, we drink, we eat. And we carry on like 7th graders. We laugh. We kid. We console. My Golf Group.
I like that you always point out the limits to the studies you reference. I have to wonder if those white men in the original Grant Study, who saw health benefits from being in supportive connected relationships, benefitted from traditional gender roles -- having spouses (wives) who did the domestic and child-rearing work -- so the men didn't have to worry about those things. Loved the "It's a Wonderful Life" reference, and coincidentally, I'm going to see John Mulaney tonight.
So basically this study concluded that loneliness sucks and we're better off having quality relationships. Seems axiomatic doesn't it?
My observation is that most people can't stand to be alone. A romantic relationship breaks up and they (male or female) are immediately on the hunt for another one. Some of them will take anything that will have them - just so they're not alone.
And then there's people like me - who seek solitude. I'm friendly in public, I'll talk with anyone in coffee shops. But that is a mere break from my preferred alone time where I can do my writing in the sanctity of my own home - where I rarely receive guests. I like people - I just don't let them get too close.
I commented yesterday with the Abe Lincoln quote being a choice.
Here is an essay by Robert Hastings which also sheds light on happiness. Nails it, I would say.
Every year, I re-read this wonderful essay by Robert Hastings – a reminder that the joy of life is the journey and not the destination.
The original essay appeared in Ann Landers’ column on May 17, 1981.
"Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent. We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flat lands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hills, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.
"But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. There sill be bands playing, and flags waving. And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true. So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering … waiting, waiting, waiting, for the station.
However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“When we reach the station that will be it!” we cry. Translated it means, “When I’m 18, that will be it! When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it! When I put the last kid through college, that will be it! When I have paid off the mortgage, that will be it! When I win a promotion, that will be it! When I reach the age of retirement, that will be it! I shall live happily ever after!”
"Unfortunately, once we get it, then it disappears. The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track
"Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough."
I’ve enjoyed reading the male insights on the intersection of happiness and relationships because it is always so interesting to explore a subject from many angles. I was married for 30 years and when my husband left for greener pastures (not UNDER them:-), I could not have survived without a little help from my friends. I never realized that the friend collection I started from childhood on would provide a solid platform from which I would launch a new (and, surprisingly, much improved) life. I don’t have a special someone in my life, but I am so lucky to hold close a multitude of multigenerational friends!
One of the most important relationships to invest in, is the relationship you have with yourself. Being content & happy in your own company, knowing & liking your true self is a solid foundation apon which to build friendships, partnerships & marriage.
I believe a great book by John Cleese and his therapist bases part of their theory on what facilitates wellness in individuals, families, corporations, nations and societies pulls from the Harvard study. It's called "Life and how to survive it". Many good ideas in it even though the structure leaves something to be desired.