Happiness and relationships

I’m currently preparing for the exam in my existential analysis educational program. It’s going to be on the 2nd Fundamental Motivation – Do I Like to Live? I’ve been publishing some notes from the material in my Instagram. Overall, the topics include – liking, dislike, coping reactions, turning towards, grieving, relationship (inner and outer), time, closeness, values, and emotions.

Currently I’m looking into section on relationships – and in the material there was a reference to the Harvard Study of Adult Development. As a researcher myself, I got curious to read more about it and refresh my garden of memory on that particular study. There are always new angles to it, as it’s been running for over 80 years now. Amazing initiative!

A very nice and concise summary can be found here: Good genes are nice, but joy is better in The Harvard Gazette, article by Liz Mineo.

Some take away points from the study as pointed out by Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

  • “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.
  • “Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, and the loners often died earlier.”
  • “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains,”

From George Vaillant (psychiatrist who led the study from 1972 until 2004):

  • “The key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.” – “The study showed that the role of genetics and long-lived ancestors proved less important to longevity than the level of satisfaction with relationships in midlife, now recognized as a good predictor of healthy aging.”