The Harvard Study of Adult Development began in 1939 with the goal of identifying psychosocial variables and biological processes in early life that predict health and well-being in late life
Happiness (life satisfaction) is important…
If you could change one thing in your life to become a happier person — like your income, a job, your relationships or your health — what would make the biggest difference?
That’s the question Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger has been attempting to answer through decades of research. He’s the director of “the world’s longest-running scientific study of happiness,” and he spoke with Ari Shapiro about the factor that appears to make the biggest difference in people’s lives.
Since 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has been investigating what makes people flourish. After starting with 724 participants—boys from disadvantaged and troubled families in Boston, and Harvard undergraduates—the study incorporated the spouses of the original men and, more recently, more than 1,300 descendants of the initial group. Researchers periodically interview participants, ask them to fill out questionnaires, and collect information about their physical health.
It’s the longest in-depth longitudinal study on human life ever done, and it’s brought us to a simple and profound conclusion: Good relationships lead to health and happiness. The trick is that those relationships must be nurtured.
Research has found that, for older adults, loneliness is far more dangerous than obesity. Ongoing loneliness raises a person’s odds of death by 26 percent in any given year. A study in the U.K., the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, recently reported on the connections between loneliness and poorer health and self-care in young adults.
Very interesting. I wonder if chronic stress underlies accelerating systemic inflammation. I need to think on this very carefully. And pet my dog.