Some housekeeping items first –
- This is not something I just made up.
- I have provided links to source material below to prove this; I hope you check them out.
- The related TED talk itself has been viewed 13 million times, perhaps even by you…it’s worth viewing again.
- I start with the conclusions because of how interesting they are.
- I focus on the conclusions because of how practical they are.
- 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.
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.
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.”