Ignoring the fact that the nearly 80-year long study only looked at men for its first 65 years (it now has women and mid-life children (of the original participants), the findings have helped confirm the long known truth:
It’s not a ground-breaking discovery. Aside from the bounty of shorter studies that support this, we know it intrinsically, because we know when we feel happy! So why as a species do we invest so much energy in pursuits that don’t necessarily enrich us, and thus fundamentally deliver on happiness? It’s the great paradox of us.
The study’s current director, Robert Waldinger (talking at this Ted event), says the findings deliver three lessons about relationships:
“… people who are more socially connectedto family, to friends, to community,are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longerthan people who are less well connected.And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic.People who are more isolated than they want to be from othersfind that they are less happy,their health declines earlier in midlife,their brain functioning declines soonerand they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. “
“Good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.”
And it certainly seems staying truly connected with our kids after they leave home is going to be instrumental in everyone’s health and happiness.