In today’s world, it is so important to prioritize. And it’s not easy to do, to balance both work and life. The split focus required can easily overwhelm anyone. That being said, somehow, some people manage to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle. While most of us watch from the sidelines are left thinking, “There’s no way that’s even possible!”
If our lives are so busy and stressed out, how can we be happy?
Well, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study seems to have found the secret to leading a life worth living. For over 75 years, the study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).
As the length of the study is so long, multiple generations of researchers participated in it. The study started before WWII where blood samples were analyzed, brain scans were done and minute details of self-reported surveys were examined to complete the findings of the study.
According to Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
It’s not your worldly possessions or how much money you earn. You can be the most followed person on Twitter, but that will not give you happiness.
No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is basically, love.
The study proves that having someone to rely on makes you less tense. It keeps your brain healthy and reduces both emotional and physical pain.
The data specifically suggests that loneliness can lead to a decline in physical health and even an early death.
“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matter.”
You don’t need a crowd full of people every weekend to hang out with. Rather, the quality of your relationships must have depth. Things that are important include how vulnerable you are to them and how safe you feel with one another. That’s the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are and truly see another.
It’s clear that all the money in the world, a skyrocketing career or even excellent physical health is nothing without good relationships.
“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment:
“The good life is built with good relationships.”
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