In 80 years of time, the study generated bulk data and a big lesson for humans!
So, what ultimately makes you happy and healthy?
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger
“Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation,” he added
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”, Said Waldinger
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Waldinger said in TED Talk released in 2015 that Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. This video turned out to be viral and is one of the most viewed TED Talks. Watch out here
Robert Waldinger shares important life lessons from his study along with wise ways to build a happy and fulfilling life.
Lesson 1: Social connections are ‘really good’ for us
According to Waldinger, people who are well-connected to family members, friends, neighbors, and community are physically and mentally happy.
“they’re physically healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected,” he said
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As per his study results, people who are lonely and socially isolated are less happy and start to experience poor health in midlife. He argues that loneliness kills because, in an unhappy state, your brain functioning decreases faster. Thus, lonely people have shorter lives than those who are not lonely.
This aligns with a recent message shared by Dr. Vivek Murthy, (former Surgeon General of the United States). He wrote in an article on Harvard Business Review –
“Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day”.
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Lesson 2: Quality of our close relationships matters not quantity
It doesn’t matter how many friends you have. Having a large group of buddies or too many relationships does not guarantee happiness.
It’s about how healthy and strong is your relationship with your closed ones. This is the second lesson from the longest study on happiness and a good life.
Waldinger explained that if you are willing to commit to and maintain a healthy relationship with a person, you are sure to reap benefits. Toxic relationships and conflicts are bad for our health.
High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced,” he added.
One of his study participants, who is an 80-year-old man, reported that he is happily partnered with his wife. The husband and wife remain happy even when they had poor physical health.
But, whenever people in unhappy relationships suffered emotional pain, their physical pain also doubled.
Healthy, warm and close relationships, have the ability to “buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old,” Waldinger said.
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Lesson 3: Good relationships protect our brains
Do you count on your relationships at times of need? Then you may enjoy longer-lasting ability to remember things.
According to Waldinger, a healthy and positive relationship with closed ones sharpens your memory. On the other hand, people who could not count on their partner experienced poor memory very early.
However, his study results do not confirm that people in good relationships never made a mistake or were easy going all the time.
“As long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories,” Waldinger said.