Friendships are the Best Predictor of Happiness

“The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
After nearly 75 years, the only consistent finding comes right out of It’s a Wonderful Life. Successful friendships, the messy bridges that connect friends and family, are what predict people’s happiness as they hurtle through life. Friendships are a better predictor than any other single variable. By the time a person reaches middle age, they are the only predictor. Says Jonathan Haidt, a researcher who has extensively studied the link between socialization and happiness: “Human beings are in some ways like bees. We have evolved to live in intensely social groups, and we don’t do as well when freed from hives.”
The more intimate the relationship, the better. A colleague of Vaillant’s showed that people don’t gain entrance to the top 10 percent of the happiness pile unless they are involved in a romantic relationship of some kind. Marriage is a big factor. About 40 percent of married adults describe themselves as “very happy”, whereas 23 percent of the never-marrieds do.
More research has since confirmed and extended these simple findings. In addition to satisfying relationships, other behaviors that predict happiness include:

• a steady dose of altruistic acts

• making lists of things for which you are grateful, which generates feelings of happiness in the short term

• cultivating a general “attitude of gratitude, which generates feelings of happiness in the long term

• sharing novel experiences with a loved one

• deploying a ready “forgiveness reflex” when loved ones slight you


Having strong social bonds and the opportunities for altruistic acts are a strong predictor of lifelong fulfillment.

Folksonomies: friendships social bonds altruism

 Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Medina , John (2010-10-12), Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Pear Press, Retrieved on 2011-07-27
Folksonomies: parenting pregnancy babies child development