Close Relationships and The Secret to Happiness
Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, a Harvard study reveals.
The Harvard Study has found a strong association between happiness and close relationships like spouses, family, friends, and social circles. “Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster ” says Dr. Waldinger.
This is an opportunity to focus on positive relationships and let go of negative people in your life, or at least minimize your interactions with them.
Stay connected for happiness
The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.
Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.” Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” — Robert Waldinger
So what are the right choices for happiness?
Research has suggested that 40% of people’s happiness comes from the choices they make. About half of our level of happiness is based on genes. Some people are just predisposed to be happier and more upbeat than others. But that does not mean you cannot increase your level of happiness if it does not come naturally.
Volunteering also is another way to boost happiness by providing a sense of purpose. If you need to broaden your social life, try volunteering for a favorite cause. Odds are you will meet more like-minded people.
Relationships and how happy we are, has positive effects on health.
“Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains”
Asked what lessons he has learned from the study, Waldinger, who is a Zen priest, said he practices meditation daily and invests time and energy in his relationships, more than before.
It’s easy to get isolated, to get caught up in work and not remembering, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen these friends in a long time,’ ” Waldinger said. “So I try to pay more attention to my relationships than I used to.”
You may find inspiration from the participants in the Harvard Study of Adult Development — one of the longest-running studies on happiness.
And yes “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains”