What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction.  

After 75 years of study Harvard scientists came to the conclusion: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. In this talk, Waldinger shares three important lessons learned from the study. 

Lesson 1: Social connections are important. People who are well connected to their community live happier, healthier and longer than people who are less connected. Loneliness turned to be toxic. 

Lesson 2: The quality of relationship is matters the most. High conflict marriage is very bad for our health, worst than divorce. And living in a good warm relationships is protective.

Lesson 3: Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective. People who can feel that they can count on the other person in times of need those people memory stays sharper longer.

This wisdom is old as hills. Why can’t we get it. Because we are human and we want a quick fix.  Relationships are messy and life long. We may think that wealth, fame and high achievements are the keys to happiness, but it is relationships and community.

People who leaned into relationships with family with community are the heaviest. Sp what about you? In your 20s or 30s what may leaning into the relationships look like? It may be reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken in years, or livening relationship with something new or as simple as replacing screen time with people time.