Posted by Kathryn Battrum on Aug 13, 2020
Our Rotary Zoom meeting this morning featured a TED talk that provided inspirational answers to a question most of us ask. What is the secret to achieving a genuinely happy life? 
 
The speaker summarized findings from a Harvard study that has gone on for 75 years and started with 724 men from both Harvard and inner-city Boston.  The objective of the study was to find ‘what makes happiness and a good life’. 
 
In a recent survey, 40 percent of millennials answered ‘wealth’, and 50 percent answered, ‘being famous’.  The speaker posited that we are given the impression we need to go after these things to have a good life, but the study, which is still running with 60 of the original 724 subjects, tells us differently.  There are three lessons to be learned from it:
 
Happiness is not about wealth or fame or working harder and harder; the clearest message from the study is:  good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” Loneliness ‘kills’, as people who were lonely lived shorter lives and were less happy and physically healthy than people who were more socially connected to community and family.
 
It is the quality of relations that matters – living in high-conflict marriages can be worse than divorce; living in warm relationships is protective.  People who were most satisfied in relationships at 50 were the healthiest at 80 and could withstand adversity better than those in unhappy relationships.
 
Good relationships do not just protect our bodies, they protect our brains; being attached in secure relationships is ‘protective’:  when you feel you can really count on someone, you are happier and healthier.  People who were happiest in retirement those who had actively worked to replace workmates with other friends in retirement – they ‘leaned into’ relationships with family, friends, and community.
 
The speaker ended with a quote from Mark Twain which is paraphrased here: “There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickering, apologies, etc. There is only time for loving, and but an instant for that”.
 
Here is the link for the Ted Talk: