Stress: we all know what it feels like. In fact, most of us experience stress throughout our daily lives. When we think of stress, most of us consider it to be a bad thing. I mean, who wants to be stressed? However, there are two primary types of stress, one negative and often damaging, and the other is actually beneficial! Keep reading to learn more.
What is the Key to A Good Life?
Psychiatrist, Robert Waldinger gave a TedTalk in 2015 on one of the longest standing studies, that has important implications for our lives. Keep reading to find out the key to living a healthy, happy life.
The Most Important Goals in Life
To start, take a second to think about what you consider to be the most important goals you have for your life. In a survey conducted on millennials, the two most common goals that surfaces were the following:
To get rich
To become famous
Do those goals fall in line with what you had in mind? In a society that emphasizes work and productivity, many of us may think that acquiring fame and fortune will inherently bring us happiness. The truth? Not necessarily.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development
Robert Waldinger is the current Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is one of the longest running studies, having been going for over 75 years at the time of the TedTalk. This massive research project studied two groups of males: one group from Harvard, and one group from some of the most troubled neighborhoods in Boston.
The researchers contacted these men once every two years, having them fill out questionnaires and surveys, collecting medical information, and interviewing the men, their spouses, and their family members. As time went on, the study began to uncover a surprising finding...
The Key to a Happy Life
The main finding of this entire study? The researchers found that the men all went very different paths in life. Some climbed the social ladder, some fell. Some succeeded, some did not. But the men who lived into their eighties and beyond all had one similar factor--positive social connection.
As quoted by Robert Waldinger: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
To continue on this point, Waldinger highlighted that, when looking back at the research, people who had the highest satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Throughout the research, it is clear that quality social connection and close relationships is significantly tied to happier, healthier, and longer lives.
The Danger of Loneliness
Another key finding of the study is that loneliness is incredibly dangerous to our health. The study found that people who felt more isolated than they wanted to be were less happy, experienced health declines earlier in life, experienced greater declines in brain functioning earlier in life, and lived shorter lives overall.
This finding is scary, considering that the fact that 1 in 5 Americans report feeling lonely at any given point in time.
How Do We Apply These Findings to Our Own Lives?
The main takeaway of the Harvard Study of Adult Development is this-- the amount of money we earn or fame we achieve is not the key to being happy. Rather, the quality of our social connections and the relationships we have with the people around us are one of the most important predictors of our health throughout our life. So, take some time to step away from your phone screen and spend the extra few minutes connecting with those closest to you. You’ll be happy you did.