The Harvard study of adult development, one of the longest studies ever done, studied the life of 724 men over 75 years. The men were from 2 groups – a group that attended Harvard college in 1938 and another from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Every year, they were interviewed about their work, their home lives, their health, and were also tested medically with blood tests and brain scans. Over the last decade, the study also expanded to wives and children.
So, what did they learn? 3 common sense lessons about relationships –
1. Loneliness kills. People who were more isolated were less happy and had worse health.
2. It isn’t about the number of social connections but the quality of your close social connections. Living in the midst of conflict was found to be really bad for health.
3. Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, but our brains. The memories of people with high quality relationships stayed sharper, longer. Good relationships were simply those where, despite disagreements, both people felt they could count on each other.
The good life, they found, is built on good relationships.
Many of the inner city Boston men ask us, “Why do you keep wanting to study me? My life just isn’t that interesting.” The Harvard men never ask that question. – Robert Waldinger 😀
Source and thanks to: TED talk by Robert Waldinger, the 4th Director of the study