10 Coping mechanisms linked to happiness

10 Coping mechanisms linked to happiness

At the core, so much of our ability to function in the world is a result of the coping mechanisms we have at our disposal—the way we react to different circumstances and the tools we use to care for ourselves. For many of us, we arrive at an unsatisfying relationship with alcohol as a result of a lack of coping mechanisms; we learned that alcohol was any easy solution to the highs and lows of life. (Until it wasn’t, of course.)


When we consider coping mechanisms, let’s throw “good” and “bad” out the window. In fact, let’s just remove those words from our vocabulary entirely—assigning things “good” and “bad” labels is a really great way to eventually decide we’re either good or bad, ourselves. Instead, let’s use “adaptive”—something that helps us—and “maladaptive”—something that does not help us.


Which brings us to the Harvard Grant Study, a 75+ year long study into what makes a good life. Researchers collected a cohort of college students in the early 1940’s and have followed them over decades, collecting data on their health, happiness, and success. (Fun fact: John F. Kennedy was one of the original members of the study.)


Through this study, researchers identified 10 Coping mechanisms (or “defence mechanisms,” as referenced in the literature) that have a direct impact on our overall happiness. And  as you might have guessed, some are adaptive (having a positive impact on our happiness), and some are maladaptive (having a negative impact on our happiness). Let’s take a look, shall we?