What The Ultimate Study On Happiness Reveals

Published 2023-11-15
How to lead a happier, healthier and longer life. Check out our sponsor: betterhelp.com/veritasium to get matched with a professional therapist who will listen and help.

A huge thanks to Prof. Robert Waldinger for all his help with this video.

To learn more about what makes for a good life, visit: the-good-life-book.com/ and    • Robert Waldinger: What makes a good l...  

A special thanks to Prof. Julianne Holt-Lunstad for her expert advice on the importance of social connections and the detrimental effects of loneliness and social isolation.

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Why eyewitnesses get it wrong - Scott Fraser, TED-Ed via Youtube - ve42.co/TEDFraser

Surgeon General discusses health risks of loneliness and steps to help connect with others, PBS NewsHour via YouTube - ve42.co/PBS-SG

Waldinger, R., & Schulz, M. (2023). The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. Simon and Schuster.

Lindqvist et al. (2020). Long-run effects of lottery wealth on psychological well-being. The Review of Economic Studies. - ve42.co/Lindqvist2020

Wen et al. (2011). Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. The lancet. - ve42.co/Wen2011

Nocon et al. (2008). Association of physical activity with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. - ve42.co/Nocon2008

Blondell et al. (2014). Does physical activity prevent cognitive decline and dementia?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. BMC public health. - ve42.co/Blondell2014

Office of the Surgeon General. (2023). Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. - ve42.co/LonelinessEpidemic

Holt-Lunstad et al. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS medicine. - ve42.co/Holt-Lunstad2010

Valtorta et al. (2016). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart. -

Shovestul et al. (2020). Risk factors for loneliness: The high relative importance of age versus other factors. PloS one. - ve42.co/Shovestul2020

Donovan et al. (2017). Loneliness, depression and cognitive function in older US adults. International journal of geriatric psychiatry. - ve42.co/Donovan2017

Lara et al. (2019). Does loneliness contribute to mild cognitive impairment and dementia? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Ageing research reviews. - ve42.co/Lara2019

Holt-Lunstad et al. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspectives on psychological science. - ve42.co/Holt-Lunstad2015

McIntyre et al. (2015). Compulsive Internet use and relations between social connectedness, and introversion. Computers in Human Behavior. - ve42.co/McIntyre2015

Kahneman & Deaton. (2010). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences. - ve42.co/Kahneman2010

Killingsworth. (2021). Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. - ve42.co/Killingsworth2021

Killingsworth et al. (2023). Income and emotional well-being: A conflict resolved. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. - ve42.co/Killingsworth2023

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Directed by Casper Mebius
Written by Casper Mebius, Petr Lebedev, and Derek Muller
Edited by Peter Nelson
Animated by Fabio Albertelli and Ivy Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller, Emily Zhang, and Zyan Treadwell
Produced by Casper Mebius, Petr Lebedev, Han Evans, and Derek Muller
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images and Storyblocks
Music from Epidemic Sound
Thumbnail by Ren Hurley

All Comments (21)
  • @lindybeige
    You did not discuss the massive problem of separating cause from effect. Married people are happier. Is this because they are married, or because happy people are more likely to attract a spouse? Are people lonely because they are sad or sad because they are lonely? Happy people find it easier to make friends, so do the friends make them happy, or or does their happiness gain them friends? Without addressing this problem, you haven't got to grips with the subject.
  • @cirogarcia8958
    I think it's really interesting how the guy at 20:54 says we wants a ton of kids, and then clarifies "as many as I can afford". I think this is the reason people first think of money for what makes us happier, because the lack of money is the biggest limiting factor in our lives. It's not that having more money will directly make us happier, it's that it will extend the limit to the things we can do to make us happy
  • @PianoUniverse
    I find I'm happiest when I'm looking forward to something I like. And also when most problems in my life are resolved.
  • @itachi-senpaii
    I used to get frequent panic attacks few years back, and I still get anxiety attacks today. At times, it felt like life was not worth living, because I felt so disconnected from this world. I am trying to understand what it means to have a meaningful life. So it doesn't really matter, just do your thing, do the things you love doing, chase your goals without thinking twice, have no regrets in life. And, if there is nothing you wanna do for yourself, do little good things for the people around you.
  • @web_jar6630
    This is probably the most important educational video I have ever seen. As an introvert myself, I used to discount the value of relationships. But as I am growing older I am realising that this has REAL consequences.
  • "Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way" is a comment that is now getting old, ok, now it is time to reverse it. Maybe the real existencial crysis was the friends we didn't make along the way
  • @eujuneca
    All that said, I cannot visualize myself as being happy without a stable financial situation, without having to worry about how much I'll spend going out, buying things I like and just living in general. That, for me, is the most important thing right now
  • @aaronvu6292
    Being Thankful and Agency are the biggest ingredients to be happy: being content of what you have, and in control and the consequence of your actions.
  • @Zeppelin0731
    When you cite the study that said that beyond $75,000 there is little increase in happiness (or however you want to frame it), you have to remember that the referenced study was performed in 2010. I just did the conversion between December 2010 and October 2023 (the approximate time of this comment) on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website. $75,000 in 2010 is equivalent to just over $105,000 today. Keep that in mind folks.
  • @johnhu321
    Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it removes a lot of sources of unhappiness
  • @99names16
    One thing I am sure of - human beings want to be challenged. Need to be challenged. When one is hedonistic, you believe you are living more life by not depriving oneself of pleasure whenever the mood strikes. Giving in to every urge and impulse because it makes you “happy” may seem right but you’re always going to end up hollow. Controlling your self and knowing you have that strength is the real key to long term success abs happiness. That’s confidence and power. Mastery of self.
  • i'm isolated and have no career the last 2 years, but i'm happy. not the happiest in my life, but the longest period of happiness. my mom also has money, so money helps a lot in not making me worry. so minimal money for survival and lack of social pressure is my formula for happiness
  • @perdu6603
    My life changed when I understood that the key to solve my loneliness problem was to stop expecting people to come to me, and to make the effort to go to them and actually get interested in them I can't stress how miraculous the results are. Basically everyone is craving for attention. If you give it to them, they will be your best friends
  • @danev1969
    I have always felt that being close to friends and family as well as a life-long (I'm 81 now) continued learning of any subject I was curious about, contributes to my overall satisfaction, self-confidence, and the awareness that all people are connected. Being involved with those in our local “village” seems to be built into our DNA, and quickly becomes the source of feeling we belong and generally happy with our lives.
  • @markcleaver6573
    I've never spent time alone, like months alone, until now at 67y.o. Tight connections with loved ones around you completes the individual.
  • @Me_Caveman
    I am happiest when overcoming adversity. As long as there is something to overcome, I will always be happy.
  • @abidulmaruf4716
    1. Physical fitness 2. Loving relationships That's it for a healthy and meaningful life
  • @VarunGupta3009
    Wow... I am obese, don't exercise, highly introverted, and feel extremely lonely all the time. This was such a wake-up call. This could possibly be the most important video of my life.
  • I've been watching this channel from when I was 19. I'm now 24. Thank you, Veritasium, for the wealth of high-quality information you've provided me with., and thank you particularly for this video. It was so fulfilling to watch ! It is never lost !
  • @user-my4vd4ow1d
    I also agree that keeping meaningful relationships make you happy.I am a college student and i live in a rental house with my dad,our relationship with the house owners are like we live in our own home.They live in a small family and their income is also not very high but they are very good by heart.Everytime when they cook food,the mother of the house owner always offers me something.They treat us like we are part of their family.