“If you want to invest in ‘the good life‘, where should you put your time and energy?”
Psychiatrist and Zen Priest Robert Waldinger asks in this entertaining and touching TED talk. He’s the perfect person to give us some clues: Waldinger is the fourth director of an amazing project which began in 1938, and continues to this day. The Harvard Study of Adult Development was born 75 years ago when two groups of boys (700+ in total) were chosen to take part in a life-long experiment, in order to ind the secret of happiness.
One group were from Harvard, and one group from Boston’s poorest part of town. Since this time, researchers have followed the boys through everything: adolescence, marriages (and divorces), all the ups and downs of parenting and career, and now? Old age, and the illnesses that often come with it.
Waldinger talks about studies showing that millennials think fame and riches will make them happy, and then discusses why they are so wrong to chase material goods. Here is his summary: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Not only that, but Waldinger claims “loneliness kills,” and points out: “You can be lonely in a crowd and lonely in a marriage. That’s also bad for your health. It can be worse than getting divorced.”
Waldinger then explains how feeling isolated and lacking support can even contribute to memory decline and ill health, and says people who have a close group around them are likely to live a much longer life. So there you go. The secret to long-lasting happiness can only be found in the meaningful connections we make in the real world.
That might not be so surprising, but it’s something most of us need to be reminded of. So, cherish your friends and nurture your family, fix your broken relationships, walk away from the toxic ones, and treat everyone with love and kindness– that’s the recipe for a wonderful life!