The happy and healthy life is built with good relationships
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”. Mark Twain
I recently listened to Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development present this study. The study, which has been ongoing for more than 75 years is the longest such study ever done. It started with 724 people from different backgrounds and tracks them yearly with questionnaires, lab tests, etc. It asks them about their work, their home lives, their health.
A goal of this study was to answer the question, “What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life?”
The answer to such a question is vital because it helps us invest our time and effort now on the things that will produce happy, healthy, and fulfilled individuals today and when we are in our 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 100s.
If you ask young people today, what their life goals are, the overwhelming majority will talk about accumulating wealth and becoming famous and powerful.
What do you think the Harvard Study revealed as the root of the good life? The good life is built on good relationships.
As Waldinger put it, “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Three big lessons that come out of this study.
- Relationships (social connectedness) are great for mental and physical health, and that loneliness kills.
- The quality of the close relationships matter, not just the number of relationships. To be protective, the relationships have to be such that even if they are some differences, you can still count on those people in difficult times.
- Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. Loneliness is so toxic that people who are lonely have more dementia and earlier. Lonely people also die earlier from all-cause mortality.
The study showed that you could predict people who would be happy and healthy in their eighties by simply looking at the quality of their relationships in their forties, for example. This was more predictive than their laboratory values.
There is nothing in this study that is new. The fact that good relationships are good for our health is been around. The Bible which is over three thousand years old teaches that. Many major religions teach that as well and people have known about it for years. It’s certainly not new information. We just have to do it.
Want to live the good life? Start investing today to build healthy strong and abiding relationships with others.