The Harvard Study of Adult Development has followed 700 men from the 1930s until today and has identified what helps make people happy and healthy.
Born out of the study was the book The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, authored by the study’s current leaders, Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. The authors conclude:
“For 84 years (and counting), the Harvard Study has tracked the same individuals, asking thousands of questions and taking hundreds of measurements to find out what really keeps people healthy and happy…
[O]ne crucial factor stands out… [I]t’s not career achievement, or exercise, or a healthy diet. Don’t get us wrong; these things matter (a lot). But one thing continuously demonstrates its broad and enduring importance:
[I]f we had to take all 84 years of the Harvard Study and boil it into a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a wide variety of other studies, it would be this:
Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period.” (Emphasis added.)
As we wrap up National Marriage Week, what more fitting message could there be? Relationships matter!
The study identified nine simple habits that can put you on track for a healthier and happier life:
- Take stock of your relationships – take time to assess if there are relationships that could be improved.
- Nurture casual relationships – continue to cultivate relationships with acquaintances, even if you don’t know their name!
- Make time for conversations – a recent study from University of Kansas demonstrated that the act of reaching out to someone once a day for a conversation increases happiness and lowers stress!
- Cultivate kindness – take extra care to be kind to the people who matter to you.
- Volunteer – those “who took time to volunteer, even just a few hours a week, met more people, formed relationships with more people, and took pride and satisfaction in the volunteer work they were doing.”
- Learn to apologize – especially if it helps repair a relationship.
- Ask questions – some people may surprise you with how much they open up after you ask a question!
- Express your love – through an act, like helping someone out with a project, or the simplest phrase, “I love you.”
- Be willing to be vulnerable–you may be rejected–or not!
These tips apply to any relationship in our lives, but no earthly relationship is more important than the marriage relationship and the family that typically develops from that relationship. That tells us promoting marriage and family is one of the best things we can do to help people be happier and healthier.
Think about how the relationships in our own family (relationships we may take for granted!) could flourish if we make a conscientious effort to incorporate these nine habits into our daily lives.
Of course, no relationship is more important than the one we are designed to have with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ. Biblical Christianity is all about relationships; so it shouldn’t surprise us that relationships, especially in marriage and family, create happiness and good health. And the happier and healthier individuals are, the better off society is in general.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make the connection: The stronger we make our families, the stronger the future.
Schools across the country seem to be hyper-focused on race and sexuality. Most recently, a Rhode Island private school told its students not to send Valentine’s Day cards that showed only white people or perpetuated gender “stereotypes.”
Parents received guidelines from Moses Brown Lower School stating, “Please coach your child if purchasing commercially produced cards to select something that does not feel ‘gender normative’ (with separate ‘boy cards’ vs. ‘girl cards,’ for instance.) Also, consider talking to your child about avoiding cards that portray only White human characters.”
Parents have understandably expressed their frustration with these guidelines and with the school’s culture as a whole. “Why does my four year old tell me the teacher said that someday she might want to marry another girl?” said one parent. Moses Brown often promotes progressive ideology about transgenderism and sexual identity. The school even hosts a Gender Sexuality Alliance club.
Stories like this one are becoming extremely common around the country, and even in Wisconsin. Children are inundated with harmful lies about race and gender. They are taught to view one another based on these immutable characteristics, rather than as individual children lovingly created by God. Many public schools, and sadly even some private schools, cannot be trusted to educate our children and act in their best interest.
This is why Wisconsin Family Action is working to pass vital legislation and combat the evil ideas that children are learning in school.
We are actively working to support the “Help Not Harm Act,” which is essential for children who are suffering from gender dysphoria in Wisconsin. The bill protects children who are confused about their biological sex by protecting them from harmful drugs and mutilation surgeries, which the left affirm are part of “tolerance.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
What these children need is the exact opposite of what their schools are teaching them. They need the truth about God’s design, not affirmation of the lies they believe about themselves.
Schools here in Wisconsin are not only feeding children harmful lies about their sexuality, but are even hiding information from parents.
The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) published a policy stating that children are allowed to “transition” to a different gender at school and teachers are prohibited from telling parents. It even indicates that school staff should lie to parents about how their children are presenting in school.
Similarly, Kettle Moraine School District’s gender identity policy allows children to “change” their gender identity at school without parental consent. Again, employees are prohibited from sharing this important information with parents and even instructed to override parents’ objections.
Thankfully, our good friends at Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom filed lawsuits challenging both of these policies, and they are now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Just this week, we testified in support of the newly introduced “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” Assembly Bill 963, a bill that lays out 15 specific parents’ rights when it comes to their children. Several of these rights are specific to education and schools. One says parents have “[t]he right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school.” A number of parents spoke at the hearing as well, supporting the bill and noting that too often their voice and their rights are either ignored or infringed.
Please pray for the success of the “Help Not Harm Act,” the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” and favorable outcomes in these two Supreme Court cases.
Parental rights and the well-being of our children are under attack. We must be diligent in overseeing our children’s education and demand and be part of necessary change when our schools espouse dangerous ideas. Few things are more important than the education of the next generation, and it’s up to us to hold our school officials accountable.
Of course, the very best situation for children is to be brought up in the homes of their married biological or adopted fathers and mothers. Marriage is good for kids! So, as we near the end of National Marriage Week, it’s important we promote marriage and family as God designed it, as well asGod’s design for human sexuality and raise our children to believe and know that they were created in His image.
Marriage is a sacred institution designed by God for our well-being. It contributes greatly to the overall health of a man and woman and allows for prosperous, well-ordered societies to thrive.
A major survey of over 120,000 American adults shows that married men are healthier overall and live longer than men who were never married or are divorced. For women, marriage provides security and a safe environment to raise children, who ultimately provide both spouses with life-long fulfillment. Further, married couples also have happier, healthier relationships than cohabiting couples.
Unfortunately, marriage is on the decline in our country. A recent Pew poll shows that only 34% of U.S. adults believe society is better off if “people make marriage and having children a priority,” while 64% believe society is “just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.” As we know, these beliefs are woefully misguided, and our country is experiencing the consequences of a lack of strong families headed by married dads and moms..
The good news is that we can be part of reversing this trend.
At Wisconsin Family Council (WFC) and Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), we fiercely advocate for and defend God’s plan for marriage in our state. We believe that part of protecting marriage for the next generation is giving them inspiring examples of marriages that honor God and, by His grace, stand the test of time.
WFC is looking to promote and encourage healthy marriages by honoring Wisconsin’s longest married couple! We want to share this couple’s story and celebrate their life-long commitment to marriage and family.
The top-5 longest married couples will be honored by being entered into the 2022 Wisconsin Family Council Marriage Hall of Fame.
The application requires answering just 5 questions and submitting 1-2 photos. CLICK HERE to submit your entry. The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 17.
We look forward to hearing your stories and celebrating our most important institution!
Thank you to our friend Gene Mills of Louisiana Family Forum for inspiring Wisconsin’s version of the Marriage Hall of Fame.
February 7-14 marks National Marriage Week, and it provides us an opportunity to reflect on the irreplaceable value of marriage and family.
Marriage is a sacred institution gifted to us by God, and it alone makes prosperous, well-ordered societies possible.
Unfortunately, many in our country do not understand the institution’s importance. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that only 34 percent of adults in the U.S. believe our country is better off if “people make marriage and having children a priority,” while 64 percent believe it is “just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”
While fewer Americans are getting married, we are also beginning to see the family deteriorate as more couples simply aren’t having children. In 2020, our country’s birth rate fell for the sixth year in a row and hit the lowest rate recorded. Wisconsin has been below replacement birth rate since 1974. (p. 18 of WFC’s Cultural Indicators 2019 Edition)
It’s vitally important that every American understands the value of marriage and family. No act of government can replace its role in society. Families instill children with morals, discipline, values, crucial skills, and civic virtues. They are every society’s foundational institution—by God’s good and grand design. When that foundation is weak, a society is weak.
The traditional family unit is the bedrock of society, and the well-being of our churches, communities, state, and country is directly related to the strength of our families. Marriage was intended by God to promote human flourishing, and we suffer immensely when we deviate from His plan.
As Christians, we have the opportunity to show the world why marriage and children are so essential and fulfilling. Our churches and families need to honor and celebrate marriages, cheer when babies are born, model strong and godly marriages, and talk positively about marriage.
We must also elect representatives who understand the importance of marriage and family and will promote its well-being in all policies.
Lastly, we must fight back against each societal ill that threatens the family, including rampant individualism, progressive sexual ideology, divorce, the devaluation of children, the attack on parental rights, and much more. Every attack on the family is an attack on our country as a whole.
We have the power, and the duty, to influence the culture in a positive way and reestablish the primacy of God’s plan for the family—a man and a woman united in a lifelong, monogamous marriage relationship and the biological and/or adopted children God blesses them with..
Please pray for our national and Wisconsin leaders to once again cherish and value the institution of marriage and for couples to form strong, Christ-centered families.