What is the key to being happy and healthy? ‘Better relationships,’ says Harvard researcher

What keeps people happy and healthy throughout their lives? Leaning into relationships and strengthening those close connections could be the key.

People who have “better relationships” with others can help predict the health of their bodies and their brains throughout their lives, according to Harvard researchers who studied people from adolescence to old age.

Scientists in the longest study of happiness ever conducted didn’t believe these findings at first, Harvard’s Robert Waldinger told the Herald.

Instead of someone’s cholesterol levels or blood pressure at age 50 predicting how they would age, researchers were shocked to learn that the people who stayed healthy and lived the longest were those who had the warmest relationships.

“It was the big surprise. We thought, ‘How can this be?’ so we kept testing in the study,” said Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has been following two groups of men for the past 85 years to identify psychosocial predictors of healthy aging.

“We continue to find that better relationships not only keep you happy, but also help predict that you are less likely to get coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis, and that you are more likely to live longer,” he added.

The key is having good-quality relationships — whether that be with family, romantic partners, friends, colleagues, training buddies or book club members, researchers found.

“This is something that people can really do: you can pay more attention to your relationships,” Waldinger said.

What is the key to being happy and healthy? ‘Better relationships,’ says Harvard researcher

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