What makes for a long, happy, meaningful, and good life? The simple but surprising answer is relationships. It’s based on 85 years of work by the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, which is still active.
Beginning in 1938, the study tracked the same 724 individuals and their families to ask thousands of questions and take hundreds of measurements from brain scans to blood work with the goal of discovering what really makes for a good life. Over the decades it has expanded to include three generations and more than 1,300 direct descendants of the original participants. Throughout the years of study, strong relationships stand out for their impact on physical and mental health and longevity.
Marc Schulz, the Harvard Study’s associate director and co-author of the new book The Good Life, highlights findings from the Harvard Study as well as other studies that point to the critical role of relationships in shaping happiness and health. He discusses why relationships are the foundation of the good life, how to improve them, and to prioritize the important things in life. His insights are timely, given the isolation so many have experienced over the course of the pandemic.
Copies of The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness (Simon & Schuster) are available for sale.
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