Did You Know | Health

The Science Is In: Why Happiness Starts With Strong Relationships

A few years ago, a survey asked millennials who had recently started college what they valued most in life. Being "very well off financially" topped the list, being important to 74.4% of people, compared to just 44.6% of Baby Boomers. While you can chalk this trend up to lots of things - like the economy, the housing market, etc - one likely culprit is the cultural belief that money can buy you happiness, and our intense drive to be happy.

While it's hard to identify and study something as arbitrary as "happiness," one researcher thinks he has a handle one it.

Dr. Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst and a Zen priest, and he has a prescription for lifelong happiness.

Dr. WaldingerHarvard Gazette

For years, Waldinger oversaw a large-scale survey called the Harvard Study of Adult Development. For more than 75 years, the study tracked both a class of well-to-do Harvard students and children from Boston's roughest neighborhoods.

The research, which continues today with the children of the original test subjects, reveals these 2 groups have more in common than you think.

It turns out for everyone from President Kennedy to Boston bricklayers, strong relationships were the best way to predict a happy life.

Click the next page to learn how strong relationships improve your life!

Waldinger revealed that after looking back through the decades of research collected from the Harvard study, one trend stood out. Good relationships - with your family, friends, loved ones - lead to better health, longer life, more happiness and more personal success. Everything from your brain function to your bank account can suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation, according to Waldinger.

He says that when subjects were in their 80s, researchers could look back at data from decades earlier and predict how their lives would turn out.

“It wasn’t their middle-aged cholesterol levels that predicted how they were gonna grow old, it was how satisfied they were in their relationships,” he said.

So how can you change your life for the better? What's the key to living a long and happy life? Waldinger has a few suggestions:

  • liven things up and try new things with your friends and family
  • replace screen time with personal time
  • let go of grudges and reconnect with people
  • help out and connect with people in your community

In the end, Waldinger admits that "relationships are messy, they're complicated, and the hard work of tending to family and friends is not sexy or glamorous."

But in the end, that's what matters most!

Share this message about happiness with someone you know!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com