“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health”.
Yes, you are reading it right. This is the lesson Harvard researchers have learned from the longest study on happiness1. The study, conducted over 75 years, has found that our financial success is not the greatest indicator of our happiness and our general quality of life. It is the quality of our relationship that defines and determines our happiness and most importantly our health.
The study started with two important questions:
1. What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life?
2. If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and energy?
The funny thing about this fast-moving era is we are obsessed with money, and fame. We are taught to work harder and harder to achieve more in order to have a good life.
Unfortunately, having a good life is not determined by money or fame. It is determined by something else.
The study spent 75 years observing 724 men. Of those 724 men, 60 are still alive and giving data to this research. Researchers sent them questionnaires, interviewed them in their living rooms, scanned their brain, analyzed their medical records, talked to their children, and even talked to their wives.
So, what is the lesson they learned from this research?
The lesson is:
“good relationship keeps us happier and healthier”.
Professor Robert Waldinger, the fourth director of the study and psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital says – “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too”.
A good relationship much more important than money, or fame. It is something that will help you live happy throughout your life. The strength and the quality of your relationship will help you to slow down your physical and mental declines. Your bonding will save you from life’s discontents.
The study found people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Earlier, there was a common belief, good genes are an important determinant for good health. Now, interestingly the study claims, ‘good genes are nice, but joy is better’.
So, the bottom-line of this blog is – ‘have a happy relationship’.
In my next blog, I will uncover three interesting facts about the relationship.
- Mineo, Liz. (2017, April 11). Good genes are nice, but joy is better. The Harvard Gazette. The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/