What do you want most out of life, or in other words, what will make you happiest? Most people will say wealth, followed closely by fame – but according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, they are mistaken.
As the fourth director of the 75-year-old Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. It is a truly a big-time longitudinal study, most probably the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. “For 75 years,” he noted, “we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.”
In a recent TED talk he shared his insights and findings about what keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life.
Waldinger summarized three lessons about relationships from the tens of thousands of pages of information that were generated from the study:
- Social connections are really good for us; loneliness kills
- It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship—its the quality of your close relationships that really matters
- Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.
I find it impossible not to be moved each time I listen to his talk, because it resonates so thoroughly with what I know to be true, not only in in our personal lives, but also in our business relationships.
– in short, they based on trust and the willingness to be in it for the long haul.
Waldinger concluded that “the good life is built with good relationships.”