However, according to a 75 year study by Harvard, the key to truly living a Good Life, a life that keeps us happier, healthier and feeling most fulfilled and satisfied is - good relationships. The study, which has followed a group of 724 men from 1938 to present day, has determined that it is the sense of social connectedness, to family, friends and community, that is the biggest determinant in how happy and healthy we will be in our later years.
Note that being socially connected is not about how many friends or relatives you have but, rather, the quality of the relationships you have with those around you. How close you are, how connected you feel, has an influence on your happiness and your health. Those participants who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were those experiencing the best health at age 80. This means that your current level of overall satisfaction with your relationships is the biggest predictor of your health as an octogenarian.
Certainly, the opposite was found to be true amongst participants also. Those who experienced loneliness, who felt more isolated from others than they wanted to be, experienced a faster decline in their health in mid life; their brains declined sooner and they lived far shorter lives. In short, loneliness was found to be toxic.
Think now of what our constant pursuit of the dollar does to our relationships, what the cost of 60 hour weeks does to the depth and quality of the relationships we have. Though it is the quality of the relationship not the quantity of time spent in or on it that counts, you do need to be physically and emotionally present for the time you are there. How present are you?
If you are finding that your relationships are suffering, it may just be time for you to start making a couple of changes. Consider replacing some 'screen' time with some people time, reaching out to someone you haven't spoken to in years, opening yourself to new relationships or even to deepening the ones you've got.
'Cause you got to have friends, the feeling's oh so strong. You've got to have friends, to make that day last long' (song lyric ... You've Got to Have Friends)As the research is now showing us, our lack of presence in our relationships (if not our lack of relationships period) may not just prove harmful to the relationship itself but may just be killing us as well. If you are working full out to ensure a financially secure retirement, you may want to take a moment to consider the quality of the retirement years you are creating for yourself. Your ultimate health and happiness depend on it.
And for an extra boost... let's leave you with the Divine Miss M telling you in her own special way...