The Good Life is Built with Good Relationships

Submitted by Christie Nash on January 7, 2016 - 9:58am
A TEDx Talk by Robert Waldinger on the longest study on happiness

What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life?

This is the first question that Robert Waldinger, fourth director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, asks us in his TEDx Talk in November 2015.

In this era of rapid movement and high-speed communication, we often look to outside sources for happiness and fulfillment, such as increased wealth or status. However, the results of this 75 year-long study might be a wake up call to rethink these priorities and the sources we seek for happiness.

While most long-term and close relationships can be messy and complicated, it appears that this hard work is a real investment with important returns.

This Study of Adult Development is the longest study of adult life that has ever been done. Researchers at Harvard have spent the last 75 years tracking the lives 724 men asking about work, home life, and health. With 60 of the 724 men still alive and participating in the project, this study now continues to follow the lives of their 2,000 children and partners.

Beginning in 1938, researchers at Harvard tracked the lives of two groups of men, Sophomores at Harvard College and a group of boys who were growing up in one of Boston's poorest neighbourhoods. Through interviews, medical records, and discussions with their parents, the researchers have discerned that the clearest message by far is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

Backing up this conclusion are tens of thousands of pages of data that support the notion that being in healthy relationships can be the strongest predictor of memory and brain function in old age and overall length and quality of life.

If you have 12 minutes to spare, please watch this video and consider how you choose to spend your time and who you choose to spend your time with.