Surprising Key to Wellness in 75-Year Harvard Study

Perhaps the longest running and most comprehensive study of adults is ongoing at Harvard University. It began in 1938, and followed two groups of men to identify the psychosocial predictors of healthy aging. The Grant study group is made up of 268 Harvard graduates and the Glueck study group is comprised of 456 men who grew up in the inner city neighborhoods of Boston, MA.

The study has been conducted over decades by generations of researchers. Through blood tests, questionnaires, brain scans and doctor’s visits, researchers used a wide range of tools used to follow these men through their traumas, relationships, careers, parenting, and day-to-day lives.

It turns out, the quality of ones relationships is the biggest single predictor of physical health and well being. Even more than wealth, job satisfaction or genetic factors—positive social relationships create health and well being, and loneliness kills.

“The clearest message that we get from this 75 year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

People who live in ongoing toxic relationships or people who are lonely have more quickly declining health, and their brain functioning declines as well, leading to dementia, and death.

“Those people who were most satisfied with their close relationships at age 50, were healthiest in their 80s.”

The definition of close relationship doesn’t seem to matter whether a person is married, or surrounded by family or close friends—it’s the quality of the relationships that made the difference in health and happiness.

Good relationships protect our brains, not just our bodies. People in safe, secure relationships, where trust is high, had sharper brain functioning, and the people who were in more toxic, less-close relationships had a much higher incidence of dementia and cognitive decline.

“The clearest message that we get from this 75 year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Moral of the story? Choose your partner wisely and nurture that relationship with everything you have. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, get together with friends often, and clear negative or toxic experiences as soon as you can.

If your relationships could use a little more nurturing and care, it’s never too late. Cultivating a community of supportive and loving people you trust and enjoy is key to a Bliss-filled life—start today!