Our genes may in part dictate how long we’ll live, but this 80-year-old Harvard study has proved that being part of a loving community helps us be happier, and live longer.
A group of researchers began a study on the health of Harvard students back in 1938 during the Great Depression, (just about 80 years ago) following their lives and continuing to follow their children.
Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and director of the study, now reveals that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Waldinger. “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.”
The study revealed that having people in your life you can rely on calms your nervous system, reduces emotional discomfort, and supports brain health. The data has also clearly shown that those experiencing loneliness, decline physically at an earlier stage and, as a result, die younger.
“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” continues Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
This study serves as a good reminder to all of us that we need to cultivate authentic bonds with people, because as the data clearly suggests that over the course of your life no matter if you have all the money in the world, without love and meaningful relationships, you will not find happiness and as a result are likely to succumb to life-shortening health conditions.
If you would like to get a more detailed view of the study please check out Robert Waldinger’s TED talk below: