What makes a good life?
I’ve recently stumbled upon this talk by Robert Waldinger over a 75-year old study of adult development. And I kid you not, it’s actually the longest study on human happiness. When you think about it, we can easily give out answers to some of the most complicated questions on earth such as why does the earth rotate on its own axis and how far is Jupiter from us. Yet, when people are asked about what really makes them feel fulfilled in life, there’s still no such definitive answer- not until a great initiative of Harvard University in the 1930s set off to find out.
Initially they gathered 724 men who came from different backgrounds and walks of life. Some were from well off families and some from really nasty neighborhoods during those days. And after several decades, only 60 of those men have survived to tell what really matters in life based on their own experiences. According to Mr. Waldinger, some of those guys climb up the ladder of both social and financial statuses. And some ,sadly, did the opposite.
The study finally concluded that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
3 takeaways from this “tip one’s hat ” study.
We should be wise in choosing our relationships. Not all relationships are healthy. Some people are just plain toxic and will drag you to their graves when you let them do so. Don’t waste your life. Don’t even try and change them for your benefit, you’ll just end up more miserable than you already are.
Loneliness kills. According to the study, people who are lonely are more likely to live shorter than those who have a family and a community they thrive with. These lonely people also tend to develop chronic diseases. Lonely here doesn’t mean alone. Because one can be lonely in a marriage. Or within a group. Therefore, being with people doesn’t guarantee true happiness.
Good relationships are like magic beans. Social connection really has something to do with our physical conditions. Most cancer survivors that I know of have surrounded themselves with a family and a community that lifted them up and eventually triumphing over their illnesses. A great number of people are seeking the way to stay young and healthy. They go through great heights and depths of the earth and the latest technology and medicine to find solutions but they fail to realized that the answer is just in front of them.
What about you? Are you investing your time and money over things and fame? Maybe we should ponder for a while , lessen our “screen-time” and have more of “people-time.”