Why do some people die happy, while others look back and see nothing but misery, bitterness and hardship?
George Vaillant, a Harvard Professor was interested in just these questions and over a 40 year study analyzed Harvard Graduates. He detailed his findings in a book called Adaptation to Life.
What most interested me about this study was this…
Vaillant found that 5% of the people in the study were what Psychologist’s call optimally adjusted – meaning as happy as they could reasonably expect to be.
20% have personality traits and attitudes that would always make life an uphill battle.
15% are generally happy, but could get more joy from their lives.
But the bulk of people 60% veer from top to bottom depending on the circumstances that happen in their lives.
What Is It That Makes The Difference?
In any situation that anyone has ever been in there are always at least two routes – actually many more, but for simplicity we’ll say two.
There is a route where things will get better. And one where they’ll get worse.
The person that lives a happier life will choose the happier route more often. The more often they choose that route the happier and more successful they will be.
The person that struggles through life chooses the harder route more often. The more often they choose that route the harder and more miserable they will be.
The route you take all depends on how accurately you can choose your path through life. Everyone has both hardships and opportunities. It’s the ability to spot the opportunities and avoid or minimize the hardships that creates a happier and more successful life.