What Makes A Good Life?

Lessons from the longest study on happiness. From TED talk by Robert Waldinger

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life. Findings from the project which followed 750 people shows that its not money or fame which keeps us healthier and happier but good relationships. The research shows that social connections are good for us both physically and mentally and those people in the study who had stronger, happier relationships and connections lived longer and were more alert into their 80’s.

Loneliness is toxic. Those who spent more time alone were less happy, had more health problems in old age and their brain function declined more quickly.

The research showed that it wasn’t how high someones cholesterol was in their 50’s that mattered so much to their health in their 80s but the quality of their close relationships with their family and friends. Living in conflict is really bad for our health. living in warm, close relationships is protective. The research shows that the most happily partnered men and women were much more able to cope with problems day to day than those that lived alone or were unhappy in their relationships. Good relationships are good for our well-being.

The problem is that as humans we like a quick fix. relationships are messy, complicated and take work. It’s never ending. You have to actively work to keep a friendship going and a relationship fresh.

How can we ensure we build on our relationships and keep them going?

1. Replace screen time with people time. Make that extra effort to actually see someone. Messaging doesn’t count!!

2. Liven up a relationship with your loved one by doing something new together. Set aside some time and leave your gripes behind.

3. Contact family that you haven’t seen for a long time. Put aside old family feuds and let go of them.

“There isn’t time,so brief is life…there is only time for loving..The good life is built with good relationships” Mark Twain

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