Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.
So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills.
WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO GET AND SO EASY TO IGNORE?
Well, we’re human. What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way.
Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.
The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults really believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life.
But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Let’s say you’re 25, or you’re 40, or you’re 60. What might leaning in to relationships even look like? Well, the possibilities are practically endless. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.
I’d like to close with a quote from Mark Twain.
More than a century ago, he was looking back on his life, and he wrote this:
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”
The good life is built with good relationships.
Download This Transcript as PDF here: What Makes A Good Life_ Lessons From the Longest Study On Happiness by Robert Waldinger
Resources for Further Reading: