The Joseph Group

The Secret to Health and Happiness

August 9, 2016

When asked the secret to happiness and health, Harvest psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Robert Waldinger says it has nothing to do with fame, money, or success. In fact, he believes that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. His evidence? The Harvard Study of Adult Development. Under Robert’s direction, his team and their predecessors have tracked the lives of 724 men to study their work, home lives, and health. Over the past 75 years, 60 of the original group of men are still living and participating in the study while the team begins to look into the lives of more than 2,000 Baby Boomer sons and daughters of the original 724 men.

In a multigenerational study that began at Harvard in the 1930s, two groups were studied: male Harvard students (which the New York Times noted included John F. Kennedy) and young boys from disadvantaged families living in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Through brain scans, interviews with the subjects (and eventually their families), blood analyses, and health exams, the study has given a pretty profound conclusion. Happiness and health are all about relationships.

Here are the biggest takeaways:

  1. People who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier, and live longer. 
  2. Quality and quantity when it comes to close relationships; relationship satisfaction predicts future health. 
  3. While high-conflict marriages can be worse than divorce, a “good relationship” doesn’t mean zero bickering. There are ups and downs, but the trust, commitment, and respect are key. 
  4. “Loneliness kills.” The feeling of loneliness can be toxic; people who are isolated are less happy, their health declines sooner, their brain function declines sooner, and they live shorter lives.

In Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk, influential videos from expert speakers, he reminds us to lean in to our relationships as much as we do our professional endeavors; our lives depend on it! Make friends in and out of work, and nurture your relationships with friends, family, and significant others, no matter how challenging it is. “Relationships are messy and complicated; it’s not glamorous. But it’s life-long.”

To stay up to date on the latest findings on the good life study, or to listen to Robert’s TED Talk, you are encouraged to visit his website by clicking here.