The Missing Part From Astonishing 80 Years Harvard Study On Teenage Boys
Do you want to improve your success in life and business? The Harvard researchers seem to have the answer in an almost 80-year-old studying the lives of 724 men from their teenage years.
As a result of a very detailed and intensive effort, the researchers concluded that close relationships are what make men happy, and that social ties shield people from life challenges while improving mental and physical health.
The revelation according to Dr Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too”.
Waldinger said in a “TED Talk” released in 2015, that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
The ongoing Harvard study is believed to be one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, having started in 1938 during the Great Depression.
In the past 80 years, the researchers tracked the lives of 724 men, following up with each one on an annual basis to ask about their work, home lives and health.
The young men were divided into two groups. The first group were sophomores at Harvard College while the second was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. They were investigated from the time they were teenagers all the way into old age to determine what keeps men healthy and happy.
Each year the researchers pay personal home visits and asked about their work, their lives, their health, without knowing how their stories were going to pan out. It turns out that flourishing in life is a function of close ties with family, friends, and community. It had nothing to do with fame, wealth, social class, IQ, genes, or any of the often celebrated variables.
This research is extraordinary in many way, because they not only received questionnaires, according to Dr Waldinger, but they were also interviewed in their homes, provided their medical records from their doctors, got their blood drawn, even their brains scanned and let the researchers talk to their children.
After these many years of gaining tens of thousands of pages of research data based on these participants, Dr Waldinger the fourth director of the study said, the clearest message from the study is that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
These are the three important lessons to take away from the study about relationships.
Social Connections Are Good For Us; Loneliness Can Kill.
Dr Waldinger said social connections made people happier and physically healthier, which as a result, make them live longer too. He calls loneliness a toxic environment for anyone to live in. He points out that people can even feel lonely in a crowd of people or in their marriage.
To quote Waldinger: “People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.”
Quality Should Always Be Selected Over Quantity In A Relationship.
It is the quality of our relationships that really matters, because you can be lonely in your marriage or even in a crowd” says Dr. Waldinger. He continues, and I quote: “It’s not the number of friends you have; it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
Even with couples who nag each other, it was shown that the ability to count on one another contributed tremendously to their sense of stability and well-being.
In a similar way a parent or teacher may have warned you, when it comes to friends, it’s not about the number of friends you have, but “it’s the quality of your close relationships that really matters.”
You should spend time and effort to make sure your relationships are healthy, because your willingness to commit to individuals can be devastating in random selections.
Instead of focusing on the quantity, it’s vital to focus on the quality of our friendships.
Living in the midst of constant conflict will eventually affects our health. High-conflict marriages, for instance, affect the health of those individuals negatively, perhaps more than getting a divorce. And living in the midst of warm, wholehearted relationships is protective and healthier.
This is what Waldinger and his team discovered: “When we gathered together everything we knew about them at age fifty, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old, it was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age fifty were the healthiest at age eighty.”
80 year-old men and women who were happily partnered reported that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood remained just as happy. On the other hand, those in unhappy relationships had their physical pain magnified by being in more emotional pain.
Because Good Relationships Protect Our Body, The Brain Function Better
The study found that being attached to a good relationship in your 80s is protective. Such couples had sharper memories; while those who were in unpredictable and unreliable relationships where they couldn’t really count on the other person experienced gradual memory decline.
Waldinger explained that in addition to positively affecting your physical and emotional health, good relationships can empower your memory.
People who are in relationships where they feel they can count on their partner in times of need actually have a sharper, longer-lasting ability to remember things.
It’s important to note, it’s not that the researchers found that people in good relationships were without faults and weaknesses, or had to be easygoing all the time.
If you want to be happier and have stronger, positive relationships, Waldinger recommended, “replace screen time with people time,” “livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, such as long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years.”
Waldinger said arguments didn’t affect the memories. They didn’t matter as long as those 80-year-old couples knew they could count on the other when the going got tough. “The good life,” Waldinger concluded, “is built with good relationships.”
“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous,” he said. “It’s also lifelong. It never ends.”
The Missing Part Of A Happy And Healthy Relationship
Dr Gary Chapman who wrote in his bestselling book; “The 5 Love Languages“, how to improve your relationship one language at a time. These five love languages are
- Words of Affirmation which uses words to affirm each other.
- Acts of Service for people whose action speak louder than words.
- Receiving Gifts for people who feel most loved by getting gifts.
- Quality Time for individuals who feel loved by getting your undivided attention.
- Physical Touch is for those value nothing more highly than appropriate touch
The finding from that famous research at the Harvard Study of Adult Development, would naturally follow that those five love languages would in part or in totally enhance the lives of those couples.
Take physical touch for example, every normal healthy human being needs that therapy. As Botsio said in the Freedom Come Rain news paper, no amount of elbow-bumps can replace a physical hug. The fact is that physical touch is one of those fundamental needs of mankind, no matter what your other Love Languages may be.
The truth be told, all of us started out with the need for that love language of touch, in fact, scientists have discovered that babies who are hugged and kissed, developed more balanced emotional healthy lives than those who were deprived of frequent physical touch during their early years.
Physical touch is crucial, however, spiritual touch is paramount. Having a closer relationship with your creator is second to none. Communion with God is a love relationship that is real and personal.
When we get closer with Yeshua, He fills our love tanks bypassing all the peculiar Love Languages we possess if He chooses. Jehovah is the creator of Love, He is the real love, so He knows how to fill our Love tanks effortlessly, because that is what He is, Love.
There is but one condition apply; we need to choose to participate in His Love in this personal relationship, so we can live in His reality.
Maintaining Healthy Relationship During The Pandemic
Real question, how do those whose primary Love Language is physical touch cope in this pandemic? Considering that we are being starved of our human Love binding source, the fuel that fills our Love tank. We are being deprived of it, but there are other ways to cope.
This is the best time to get into a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, the God of The Bible, the God of Israel.
God gave to Dr Gary Chapman the “Five Love Languages” as a description of how human beings give and receive Love. The Triune God is bigger than that formula, He will find ways to express Love to each of us the way He created us as unique beings to receive it.
This pandemic can work for our good, by pushing us to having our very own powerful Love tank filled with God through the reading of and obeying His Word.
Here is where I am choosing to live and experience healthy happy and longer life by loving Yeshua and walking in obedience.
The Creator God promised us long life on Earth if we honor and respect our parents (Ephesians 6: 2-3).
His commandments are instructions to guide us to a good life on Earth. So if you want to live a long life, follow them with all your heart (Mark 12: 29-31).
Wisdom is the ability to discern what’s right from what’s wrong. If you are wise enough, you will surely refrain from making hasty decisions that will bring your life in trouble. Hence, get knowledge and wisdom to live longer on Earth. Choose to eat the right food, do exercise, meditate, and relax (Proverbs 3: 13-16; 9:11).
Choose to be happy and healthy, not sickly. We are healthy by God’s design, and we are sick by our own default.