Friday, January 19, 2018

It’s True: People Do Need People, and Here’s Proof

Despite bookshelves full of self-care books teaching us how to feel contented on our own, the one proven truth about how to be truly happy is this: our happiness depends on other people.

As writer Ruth Whippman points out in a recent article in the New York Times, a long line of studies into what makes a happy life have consistently arrived at a common conclusion: it’s healthy social relationships that are the “strongest, most consistent predictor.” Whippman adds: “Humans can’t actually be happy without them. This is a finding that cuts across race, age, gender, income and social class so overwhelmingly that it dwarfs any other factor.”

For example, scientists first began tracking the health of a group of students at Harvard University in 1938 and followed them into the present. The Grant Study was revolutionary, as explains: “(At that time) having not yet uncovered the structure of DNA, we knew close to nothing about genetics (and) mental health was a fringe concern.”

As it turns out, the results of Grant Study were, and are, groundbreaking. A key finding: those participants who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 turned out to be the healthiest at age 80.

Professor and psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who now directs the study and recently gave a Ted talk on its findings, explains: “Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”

The takeaway: more than wealth or professional success, close relationships are what keep humans happy and healthy.

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