We all want to find the key to living “the good life” – one that is fulfilling, and one in which we are healthy and happy. A popular view is that happiness is found in money or fame, however, Harvard researchers have found something far more important: that the secret to a good life is in the relationships that we build with others.

Over 75 years, Harvard researchers studied 724 boys from the time they were teenagers into their adult years. There were two groups of boys involved in the study: one group who were sophomores at Harvard when they started in the study, and one group who were from one of the most disadvantaged areas in Boston during the 1930s.  Researchers continue to ask questions every second year about every facet of the participant’s lives. They also look at their medical records, take a brain scan and take a blood sample in order to gain a full picture of the participant’s wellbeing.

The key finding from the study is that “…good relationships keep us happier and healthier…”.

Study director Professor Robert J. Waldinger explains that social connections with our friends and family have a significant positive impact on our lives. Furthermore, he asserts that the quality of the relationships were key. He says that:

“…the people who did the best in life over 75 years…[were] the people who made good relationships their most important goal…”.

With this information in mind, I want to challenge myself to expand on the relationships with those around me, to really take time to listen to and value others. I find that it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of our own lives and to put off spending time with friends, family and colleagues because ‘there isn’t time’. It’s true – life is busy, but if we all chose to set aside some time to spend with people around us, we would lead better, happier life. I encourage you to do the same – challenge yourself to build stronger relationships.

Contributed by Sophie Van Dijk, article adapted from: