How One Harvard Study Discovered the Fountain of Youth
I think all of us are searching for the secret of how to live better, be better, and do better. I know I am!
When humans are born, our primary desires are to be loved, fed, and happy. But, as we get older and the demands of life begin to consume us – whether it be social pressures or family expectations – life gets confusing!
We get so caught up in pursuing an education, finding our dream job, or starting that business chasing our goals, getting that house, and hoping to live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, as most of us know, this cycle of life can feel exhausting, and we get so caught up in living that we forget what we were chasing for in the first place.
We forget that what we really want – at the depths of our souls – is love, a long healthy life, and happiness.
It almost feels like we are running on a neverending treadmill, hoping to finally catch a taste of what’s been sold to us, what’s commonly referred to as the “American dream.”
We chase for the externals – a car, house, money, a significant other – but it feels like our inner soul is constantly being depleted at the expense of this constant neverending treadmill.
All the while, most of us never stop and think – unless it’s like a midlife crisis – that maybe this isn’t the most effective route to happiness and long healthy life.
There is a vital ingredient missing. And it’s human connection.
Research at Harvard University has concluded a significant relationship between happiness and human connection.
Humans are naturally communicative species and constantly crave connection.
Whether it’s expressed through our constant urge to unconsciously pick up our cell phones to check a text message or constantly scrolling on Instagram to see what our friends are up to.
In fact, without human connection, it can severely impact a human emotionally, psychologically, and physically. This is why solidarity confinements in prisons are unfortunately so effective.
Now here’s where it gets interesting!
In this Harvard study led by psychologist Robert Waldinger, considered the longest human study in history, they tracked the lives of 724 men over 75 years by analyzing blood samples, interviewing their children, and a whole host of other scientific data points.
They used all of these data points and years of research to answer a straightforward question: what makes a happy and healthy life?
This 75-year study ultimately concluded that the secret to a happy and healthy life is meaningful relationships.
More specifically, Robert says in a TED Talk that “meaningful social connections actually keep us alive.”
All of the men who lived longer and were happier fostered meaningful relationships in their lives – expressed through their family, community, or even on the job.
Those men who died quicker and were unhappy did not have a sense of community or close and meaningful relationships.
So, it wasn’t the car, the house, money, or achieving a particular position within a company that ultimately led to their wellbeing and happiness.
Although these things can often contribute, it’s clear developing meaningful relationships along the way is a necessary ingredient for a successful and happy life.
This extraordinary study sheds light on the importance of becoming aware of the people you surround yourself with every day.
So take a minute and think about the people you are most close to in your life.
They may be your family members, friends, co-workers, or significant other.
Whomever those persons may be, it’s imperative that you begin to see them as an actual component and even a source of your overall wellbeing and even happiness.
The people you allow into your life are either expiring you or inspiring you. To put this more bluntly, they are either shaving off years of your life or adding years to your life.
Here’s an exercise for you that I do monthly:
Take a moment and think about the negative, complainers, or the “never have anything to contribute” people in your life.
You should avoid spending too much time with people constantly like this; otherwise, they could unconsciously affect your health and goals. Their stress becomes your stress. Their negativity unconsciously becomes yours.
If they are family or co-workers, no worries, just be mindful of how long you spend with them.
Now think about the people in your life who are happy, positive, and make you feel good after being with them. These are the people in your life who are quite literarily adding years to your life.
As you begin to look at many of your relationships in a different light, become conscious of the individuals you allow into your life.
Make sure they add value to your goals, desires, and overall success. But, more important, make sure that they add value to your overall health because those connections may very well be keeping you alive longer!
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- Chazz Scott, Mindset & Resilience Coach, Founder of Supra Mentem, LLC.
Supra Mentem, LLC. provides corporate training, seminars, leadership and entrepreneur coaching, and workshops designed to provide effective strategies to propel individuals toward their potential personally and professionally.