As you look at your schedule for the week, maybe you see work, meetings, maybe a doctor’s appointment or a parenting obligation.
Do you have a date night with your significant other? Or time to talk with a close friend?
Maybe your calendar is full of everything except the one thing we need most.
A recent. Inc. story headlined, “This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life,” reports on research into the physical and emotional well-being of two groups of men.
The conclusion? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Though the study didn’t include women — who cared about our needs in the 1940s anyway? — let’s assume the findings apply to all humans, and that regardless of gender, close relationships help your nervous system relax, help your brain stay healthier and reduce emotional and physical pain.
Researchers found that it doesn’t much matter what love looks like — if you’re happily married or single, if you have lots of friends or just a few — but more so, that you have people who are close to you.
A CNBC story about the Harvard research project headlined, “75-year Harvard study reveals the key to success in 2017 and beyond,” says:
“It’s not just the number of friends you have,” Waldinger says, “and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship. It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
The most highlighted passage in “Triumphs of Experience,” a book by George Vaillant, who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, on Amazon’s Kindle platform is this:
There are two pillars of happiness revealed by the seventy-five-year-old Grant Study (and exemplified by Dr. Godfrey Minot Camille). One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.
So maybe take a look at your calendar for the week and consider whether you’re making time for close relationships that matter most to you, and if you’re coping with life’s stresses and demands in a way that pushes away those whose love this research plainly says you need.
Do you need help making time to develop or nurture relationships? I wrote
Resolve to build your social connections earlier this year, with tips for hosting parties (one way I’ve built friendships), for adding a social element to something you need to do anyway like exercise or errands, and for staying in touch with far-away loved ones.
Watch this TED talk by Robert Waldinger, “What makes a good life?” with suggestions including replacing screen time with people time, making time to do something new to freshen up a stale relationship, or reaching out to a loved one you haven’t talked to in years.