World’s Longest Study on Happiness

January 17, 2023
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They should invest in their relationships with other people.

Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest study on happiness ever conducted. The 80+ years of data indicates that choosing to invest in relationships is the top contributor to happiness.

Why It Matters: By following people for decades and consulting with both their parents and children, researchers found that the strongest indicators of health and happiness throughout life comes from those who consider their relationships having satisfactory quality and warmth. Relationships are widespread, too, and include spouses, colleagues, close friends, or the barista you see each day.

Bottom Line: Relationships serve as stress regulators, Dr. Waldinger says. The more meaningful our relationships are, the happier we are.

Big Picture: Dr. Waldinger shares, "You know, we've tracked these lives for eight decades. And the wonderful thing about following these life stories is we learn it's never too late. There were people who thought they were never going to have good relationships, and then found a whole collection of good close friends in their 60s or 70s. There were people who found romance for the first time in their 80s. And so the message that we get from studying these thousands of lives is that it is never too late."

What's the #1 thing to change to be happier? A top happiness researcher weighs in (NPR)

by Jenna Lee,