A miraculous study that spanned over 75 years!
Recently, I had the privilege of watching a TED Talk podcast by psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Human Development (https://www.you tube.com/watch?v=8KkKuTCFvzI).
If you haven’t heard, this podcast is about an amazing 75-year study that tracks the lives of hundreds of men in America…yes, over seven decades! It’s a remarkable achievement. Think about the logistics involved in such a long-term research project.
This study survived over time and the results appear to resonate with many people…there are over 1.4 million views on You Tube in just a few short weeks and increasing daily.
When possible, I recommend you set aside 13 minutes of your time to have a listen. The results might surprise you and even change your ideas about life and the goals you hold close to your heart.
How to achieve a ‘good’ life?
Our modern media constantly tells us that we need a more expensive car, a larger home, a brand name watch and purse to be happy in life. More this…more that…more of anything and it seems many of us buy into this idea to achieve our ideal life.
A recent survey of millennials revealed that 80% of the respondents’ main focus in life was to become rich, and 50% reported that they wanted to become famous.
Pryor et al (2007), uncovered that today’s college students believe ‘being well off financially” is more important than “developing a philosophy of life”, this is the reverse of what college students from the 1960’s and 1970’s reported.
In these two examples, it appears that we have moved away from believing that intrinsic goals are more important than extrinsic goals.
What are we doing to ourselves?
Are we happier with more of everything?
Unfortunately, a number of the indicators point that our general level of happiness is decreasing; sadly, over 36,000 Americans commit suicide every year (emoryuniversity.com), and the incidence of diagnosed depression is on the rise (www.psychologytoday.com).
As we push harder for a promotion, more money or recognition, we are simultaneously pushing our happiness aside.
We’ve missed something…our values are turned upside down.
The results of the Harvard Study of Human Development
The Harvard Study did not find that wealth and fame were the most important paths to life-long happiness.
After investigating the lives of hundreds of men for over seven decades, to live a happier, healthier, longer life the researchers found that:
- social connections are really good for us
- the quality of your close relationships matter most
- good relationships protect our bodies (and brains)
Our social connections help us to live a happier, healthier life. It appears that loneliness kills our spirit and our bodies. As we age, those who suffer from loneliness record brain functions that decline earlier than those who are strongly connected.
It seems that the quality of our close relationships is more important to our health and happiness than the quantity. Overall, those who have warm relationships with a few are better off emotionally and physically than those with a higher number of relationships that are not that meaningful.
‘Good’ relationships buffer us from what life can deal us; in other words, when we can count on others around us we are more secure and therefore happier.
Our brains respond positively with the feelings we have from our sense of security, our minds remain sharper and over a longer time when we have someone whose “Got our back.”
Tips to create happiness in your life
Dr. Waldinger concluded his Ted Talk presentation with a few easy to implement tips to turn your life around and create the real happiness that you deserve. Consider the following:
- experiencing new things as a couple
- taking long walks in nature
- having date nights
- resolving long-standing family feuds
If you follow these four simple yet effective ideas, your body and your brain will thank you for it!
Why do these ideas result in a happier, healthier life?
It’s about the flow of energy; happiness creates a flow of positive energy while feelings of isolation and loneliness results in a flow of negative energy.
Tip Number 1: It’s important to experience new things as a couple. After a while we may feel the routine, the grind of everyday life is stripping us of our happiness.
There are unlimited possibilities if we are opened minded and willing to explore new things. New challenges can create waves of positive energy that end up being shared between two people.
Tip Number 2: We can connect or reconnect with nature by taking long walks in the park or woods near our home. Out in the woods, we are flooded with the positive energy from the trees. How can you not be consumed by euphoric feelings in such a setting?
Tip Number 3: Then there are date nights. Research has shown that it is not our minds but our hearts that are by far the largest energy field in our body. It’s real joy when we feel our hearts share positive energy with someone we love.
In the end, our unique frequencies meet and produce this amazing synchronicity that allows each to be dependent and independent upon each other. It’s exhilarating!
Tip Number 4: If you feud with our siblings or hold grudges for other family members you are keeping yourself in a quagmire of negative energy that can and will result in a variety of physical and psychological aliments.
When we resolve family disagreements or long time misunderstandings we flush the negative energy from our mind and body and welcome the return of positive energy.
Put family feuds behind you. Take action. Do something about it right now, get on the phone or even better go visit in person to overcome the problems that have causing harm to your mind and body.
We are social beings
Ultimately, should we be surprised that relationships have been the main priority of the countless subjects interviewed for over seven decades, after all, we are social beings first and consumers second. According to the research, that is how we should live to have a happier, longer life.
Here’s that link again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KkKuTCFvzI
“The good life is built on good relationships.”