What keeps us happy and healthy as we move through life?
What if we could watch people throughout their ENTIRE lives to collate that sort of data?That would be pretty amazing!!
Well, its been done.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is a 75 year old study (it continues to this day) that tracks the happiness, as well as the levels of health and vitality of a group of 724 men.
This study started in 1938 and the men came from two places. The first group were Sophomores at Harvard who all ended up graduating during the Second World War. The second group came from one of Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods, most lived in tenements in very tough circumstances. A broad cross section of society one could say.
There are still 60 original participants still alive today and yes, they are all in their 90’s.
Robert Waldinger, the fourth director of this study, shares the powerful data that has been collected over the course of this study. The data wasn’t just collected through written questionnaires but through live interviews in the participants living rooms, through blood work, brain scans and access to their health records, through video taping intimate conversations with their wives and partners and by studying them in both their work and home environments.
This is why this TED talk is in my top three! So what are the lessons that have come this study around happiness…
- Social connection is very good for us – loneliness kills.
- It’s not the number of relationships that is important, it is the quality of the relationships that counts.
- Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.
The clearest message that comes from this study is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.
Not the money, not the fame, not the big house!
I hope you enjoy it!