By Rositta Liosi – EMTV Online
Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger is the fourth director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest and most complete studies of adult life ever conducted.
The study began in 1938, and involved two groups of white men, 268 sophomores were part of the ‘Grant Study’, which was led by Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant.
The second group of men was part of the ‘Glueck Study.’ The 456 participants in the ‘Glueck Study’ were 12 to 16-year-old boys.
Researchers surveyed the men biannually about their lives, asking them a series of questions relating to their marriages, job satisfaction, and social activities.
Every five years their physical health was monitored, the health assessments included chest X-rays, blood tests, urine tests, and echocardiograms
Robert Waldinger described some of the secrets to happiness revealed by the Harvard study in a TED talk, in November of 2015.
He pointed out three key lessons about happiness:
The men in both groups of the study who were more social; they reported being closer to their family and friends, or community.
Subsequently, these men were happier and healthier unlike their less social counterparts.
The happier and healthier men were also inclined to longer life. The less social group of men had worse physical and mental health.
Robert Waldinger explained the effect of loneliness on a person’s health.
“People, who are more isolated than they want to be from others, find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives,” Waldinger said.
Quality of Relationships
“The quality of your close relationships matters.”
High conflict marriages with little affection apparently have a dismal effect on our health, so much so that it is even worse than getting a divorce.
The study also showed that the quality of our relationships is also dependent on age.
“The people that were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
Additionally, good close relationships aide against the challenges of aging.
Stable, supportive marriages
A person’s mental degeneration is also affected by the relationships they have.
The study showed that people who were married without having divorced, separating, or having serious marital problems until age 50 performed better on memory tests later in life than those who weren’t.
The major finding from the Harvard Study of Adult Development was that “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”
Here is Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk.