Wealth? Fame? Working hard? New research reveals what really makes us happy.
It’s been 75 years in the making and the topic for countless philosophers to muse over, but a US study seems to have finally uncovered the secret to happiness and health.
Speaking during a TED Talk, Harvard professor Robert Waldinger revealed that, though wealth and fame continue to be commonly cited desires amongst millennials (those born sometime from around the early 1980s to around the year 2000), the research he presides over has found only one consistent factor: positive relationships.
During the twelve minute talk, Waldinger says that the data he and his colleagues have gathered indicates that people who are well connected to family, friends and communities are happier, healthier and live longer than those who are less well connected. People who are more isolated than they want to be suffer from shorter lifespans, see their brain function decline faster and generally experience lower health and happiness levels.
Other links between happiness and relationship status have also been uncovered. Whilst positive relationships can have a majorly beneficial impact on us, the reverse is true of negative relationships. The data gathered suggests that an unhappy marriage, for example, can have a more pronounced negative impact on the parties involved than the corresponding divorce would create.
So, maybe it’s time to forget about your cholesterol levels, because Waldinger looked at those as well in the study’s sample group when they were age 50 and found little link between poor results and happiness and satisfaction when they were 80. Those who had positive relationships at age 50, however, were also the happiest and healthiest individuals when they became octogenarians.
The message, of course, applies to us all and in many ways, but is particularly interesting for us to consider when it comes to our financial health and wellbeing. Great finances, well looked after and planned, allow us to focus on the important things in life; on nurturing those great relationships between ourselves, our connections, our partners and children. Keep working towards positive relationships and we’ll keep your money working for you and those close to you. Here’s to a happy, healthy future!