When Millennials were asked what is most important for a happy life they often said money or fame but in a 75 year study from Harvard led today by Robert Waldinger there was a surprising answer.
Relationships! The study initially focused on men, covered face to face interviews as well as medical and recently included the wives. They found 3 key factors. First that social interactions with friends, family and/or the community have a strong impact on happiness and improved health. Loneliness is toxic it reduces brain function and life spans. Many of us have experienced loneliness at sometime in our lives and what is important is how we rectify it..
The 2nd key finding is the quality of our relationships as in high conflict. They studied people in their 50s to determine who would be healthy at 80. Those in a satisfying good relationship at 5o were healthier when they reached 80. Their pain was less acute, their memories and brain functioning were also better than those in poor relationships. Additionally, it’s important to not only have a good relationship but to feel safe that the other person people have your back and care about you.
Not all relations last a long time, so it’s important to nurture what you have and to find other relations to supplement. When leaving friends at work, some retirees stay in touch and continued the relation. others found new people through hobbies and activities.
Making time to be with people is key That’s why for many the pandemic caused people to decline and feel lonely and lost. Anxiety and depression increased. Now, more than ever is the time to revise stale relationships; reconnect with people.
Along with creating relationships with family and friends there is another key to being happy and living a long life. It’s optimism. In a recent study of 160,000 women, those with more optimism often have a longer lifespan and an increased chance of living well past 90.
As Mark Twain said, “There is only time for loving and the good life is built on good relationships”.
What makes you happy? and if you aren’t where you need to be, how will you fix it? To paraphrase Spock; live long and prosper in healthy happy relationships.