In the Harvard Grant Study, the world’s longest running and most comprehensive psychological study, the five most mature, healthy defense mechanisms associated with higher life satisfaction were:
1. Altruism: focusing on others’ wellbeing
2. Humor: making light of difficult or stressful events or experiences
3. Sublimation: turning anger or frustration into productive energy
4. Anticipation: maintaining a realistic view of the future and its difficulties
5. Suppression: consciously suppressing unproductive and distressing thoughts
The overarching message is that resilience counts. Men who developed these 5 characteristics were three times more likely to flourish in later life. Furthermore, they were able to alter their paths by developing the capacity for emotional warmth and connection to others despite difficult upbringings or individual setbacks.