Category Archives: friends

The Elixir of Life

Some housekeeping items first –

  1. This is not something I just made up.
  2. I have provided links to source material below to prove this; I hope you check them out.
  3. The related TED talk itself has been viewed 13 million times, perhaps even by you…it’s worth viewing again.
  4. I start with the conclusions because of how interesting they are.
  5. I focus on the conclusions because of how practical they are.
  6. I end with the conclusions because of how fruitful they are.

These conclusions have been derived from one of the longest study of people ever conducted – 80 years long with individuals from their teens to their very senior years, supplemented by many others over time.

Fundamentally, the study seeks to answer these questions –


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

And if we were to invest in our future selves, where should we put our time and energy to reap those benefits of health and happiness?

The most intriguing part of this study are in fact the conclusions.  Conclusions that have been painstakingly derived from a long and exhaustive process of collecting all manner of information and knowledge about the lives of the participants year after year after year.

And yes, these questions are indeed answered.

The conclusions say that it’s not wealth or work or fame that make you healthy and happy.  They’re something else that seem like so much common sense and you wonder if it needed an 80+ year study to determine the answer to this most interesting enigma of life.

Drum roll, please…

The primary conclusion of the study, the answer to that key question is this:

Good relationships are what keep us happier and healthier.  Period.


To expand on this conclusion further, there were these additional, interesting findings from this long study:




Social connections are great for us; loneliness kills.

It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. 






The quality of your close relationships matter; whether it’s friendship, marriage, community…

Good, warm, satisfying relationships predicated happiness and good health. Those who had such relationships in their 50s grew to be healthier and happier in their 80s.



two older ladies playing cards

Good relationships result in not just in good physical health but in good mental health.

They did not just protect bodies but also protected minds with stronger memories versus earlier decline in memories.


Now, that I have given you something super simple and practical to think about practicing, I hope you also read about the study here.  And watch this much viewed TED talk (12:40 minutes) on this topic as well.  In fact, you can read all about the Harvard Study of Adult Development at their website…which kind of is the point of this post, to make you aware of the long study and its conclusions.

Truly speaking, as simple as all of this sounds, relationships are in fact complex and complicated.  Good, strong relationships take effort.  But as many of you know, the rewards you reap every day from your efforts are as significant as the efforts that you invest in your relationships.  (Or not).

Ultimately, what this study demonstrates is that those rewards are even more impactful and their effects last so much longer than we ever knew or imagined.

So, go forth and invest in those awesome relationships! They bring you joy today and will bring you excellent physical health,  mental health and happiness for a long time to come. Cheers!




“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” 
― Dalai Lama XIV


We Are The Lucky Ones

Siblings by Dasilva

Question: Who’s lucky?

Answer: Anyone who is a sibling.

The premise here is that you’re one lucky person if you have one or some siblings in your life. So, do you count your blessings? It’s not too late to appreciate your good fortune.

Of course, this is just my opinion and my experience speaking.

For some other thoughts about siblings, I’ve included some references to a couple of interesting articles and excerpts on this topic.


Siblings by the US Army


NPR had this segment called: Your Adult Siblings May Be The Secret To A Long, Happy Life. (Selected excerpts below).

When psychologists study siblings, they usually study children, emphasizing sibling rivalry and the fact that brothers and sisters refine their social maneuvering skills on one another. The adult sibling relationship has only sporadically been the subject of attention. Yet we’re tethered to our brothers and sisters as adults far longer than we are as children; our sibling relationships, in fact, are the longest-lasting family ties we have.


They learn from the friction between them, too, as they fight for their parents’ attention. Mild conflict between brothers and sisters teaches them how to interact with peers, co-workers and friends for the rest of their lives.


The benefits can carry into old age. The literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being — mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction — are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.


Siblings by Jayaprakash


And this op-ed piece was published in the NY Times: The Gift of Siblings. (Selected excerpts below).

“Siblings are the only relatives, and perhaps the only people you’ll ever know, who are with you through the entire arc of your life”, the writer Jeffrey Kluger observed to Salon in 2011, the year his book “The Sibling Effect” was published. “Your parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form”.


They’re less tailored fits than friends are. But in a family that’s succeeded at closeness, they’re more natural, better harbors. As Colt observed of his siblings, and it’s true of mine as well, they aren’t people he would have likely made an effort to know or spend time with if he’d met them at school, say, or at work. And yet a reunion with them thrills him more than a reunion with friends, who don’t make him feel that he’s “a part of a larger quilt,” he said. His brother do.


Siblings Kennedy


There’s also an interesting OSU paper on the topic: Adult Sibling Relationships. (Selected excerpts below).

One researcher, Gold (1989 as cited in Cicirelli, 1995), described five types of sibling relationships based on their involvement with each other. They included “the intimate, the congenial, the loyal, the apathetic, and the hostile” (p. 59).

Intimate siblings are especially close and extremely devoted. They value their relationship above all others. Congenial siblings are friends. They are close and caring but place a higher value on their marriage and parent-child relationships. Loyal siblings base their relationship on their common family history. They maintain regular, periodic contact, participate in family gatherings, and support each other during times of crisis. Apathetic siblings feel indifferent toward each other. They rarely are in contact. Hostile sibling relationships are based on anger, resentment, and very negative feelings.

In Gold’s sample, 14 percent of sibling relationships were intimate, 30 percent loyal, 34 percent congenial, 11 percent apathetic, and 11 percent hostile. 


Siblings by Waddington


Siblings, like people, come in all shapes and sizes.

I count myself as one of the very lucky ones. I have just one brother who I love dearly. I realize that my life would be quite empty without this relationship.  [For those without any natural siblings, I feel sure you can adopt a close friend or relative to play the part so don’t be too gloomy].

And yet people do such stupid things to destroy these precious sibling relationships – usually and unfortunately in the name of inheritance. We see and hear about these situations all too often.  

The destructive behavior is usually influenced by other close relatives,  sometimes spouses, other times their own children and still other times their in laws.

So dumb! They inevitably end up paying a big price for it. 


siblings old picture


Although my brother and I went off in different directions during childhood – different schools in different locations – there was never a time when I did not feel close to him and utterly glad that he was there, somewhere, watching over his younger sister. During adulthood, our bonds have only strengthened, helped by the fact that we both eventually migrated West.

For some strange reason, when we look at siblings, we tend to notice differences more than similarities. Isn’t it weird how sibling comparisons are so inevitable? And then it’s as if similarities should be expected and par for the course because similar genes dictate that. And differences are somehow fascinating and to be examined. Strange, given how unique each of us is.

There is a world of difference between my brother and I,  but that only makes me appreciate him more. To top it off, my sis-in-law is an angel.

Me, lucky? Yep! Counting my blessings? You betcha.


Siblings by Knipe


It begs the question (to me at least) – what on earth can come between us ever, that we cannot overcome? I’ve thought about this because I’ve seen so many messes around. And I will tell you what. Absolutely nothing. And the reason I’m so confident is because I believe that this outcome is totally in my control. This is not a result. It’s a choice.

And for all those poor souls who don’t feel the same way, who can blame others or credit the circumstances for breaking that sibling bond or have to deal with “bad eggs”, not only have you forfeited (or been forced to forfeit) a relationship that is precious (a gift!), you deserve all the sympathy you can get. You’re missing out on something great.

I don’t believe anything I have said about siblings is  breaking news. I do believe that many of us don’t appreciate our sibling(s) mindfully enough, often enough. Yet, we truly are the lucky ones.


Siblings by Wileveranfne


And finally, as I look ahead, I hope for nothing more than that strong bond continuing for my own kids as their grow and live their varied lives – may you each have the good sense to always appreciate and count your lucky stars for your siblings!


Siblings by Sund


“My siblings have certainly seen me at my worst, and I’ve seen them at theirs. No one has bolted. It’s as if we signed some contract long ago, before we were even aware of what we were getting into, and over time gained the wisdom to see that we hadn’t been duped. We’d been graced: with a center of gravity; with an audience that never averts its gaze and doesn’t stint on applause. For each of us, a new home, a new relationship or a newborn was never quite real until the rest of us had been ushered in to the front row”.

 Excerpt from The Gift of Siblings, NY Times



Photo Credits:

All pictures of siblings of varied shapes and sizes from different time periods, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.



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