19th Jun 2017

TEDx Talk: what makes a good life?

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robert waldinger talks happiness
Lucy Fallick

Tracking a group of more than 700 men, from their late teenage years into their 80s, has allowed researchers in the US to make some fairly solid conclusions about what makes a good life. And while citing good relationships as key is not that surprising, the results do make you think about where you’re directing your energy.

The Harvard study of adult development began in 1938 and is the longest survey on happiness to date. Two very different groups of teenage boys were selected for the study: the first, students at Harvard University, many of whom went on to serve in World War I, and the second, some of the poorest inner-city kids from Boston who had incredibly disadvantaged backgrounds. The lives of these men have been tracked through questionnaires, home visits, various medical tests and conversations with relatives.

In this TEDx Talk, the fourth and current director of the study, Robert Waldinger, discusses what the researchers have learnt by monitoring the men over more than seven decades. The study showed that strong social connections are the most important determinant in our lives. Those in the study who had more good relationships experienced greater happiness, better health and lived longer.

The researchers also concluded that the quality of our close ties had a significant effect on the quality of our lives, with conflict being highly detrimental to health and happiness. Plus, good relationships are also beneficial for our brains, with memory function remaining stronger in those with more positive social connections.



So the next time you feel like cancelling a catch up with a friend, or not calling a relative, just remember that it’s these little things that can make a great difference in our lives. I know I’ll be putting more effort into my relationships having watched this TEDx Talk.

 

Related articles:
Five steps to a happier life
Can money buy happiness?
Out of your mind for happiness





COMMENTS

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Tom Tank
19th Jun 2017
11:42am
As espoused by the Rev Francis McNab in the late 18th Century true happened is found through helping others without any thought of material reward in return.
I believe this is just as true today.
Attila
19th Jun 2017
12:09pm
Very True.
A friendship only works if both try and communicate well.
Rather like two people in a row boat and one stops rowing they get nowhere.
Like everything in life we have to keep working at it.
Rosret
19th Jun 2017
4:29pm
..or you can just give up on trying to make the other person pick up their oar and find a nice canoe to glide though the water and you'll probably go a lot faster and further.
Rosret
19th Jun 2017
4:26pm
75 years for a short TED talk on relationships. I was hoping for something in more depth. I would have loved to have seen their findings on other trends. New studies have found women live longer and healthier without men. But men live longer with women. It doesn't take a 75 year survey to figure why that happens.
MisettyBruce
19th Jun 2017
6:23pm
What a cool and optimistic video. I wrote something like this on this topic https://customwriting.com/write-my-essay  
I love videos and articles that inspire me to do things.
Watto
19th Jun 2017
9:33pm
Do you like men Rosret or do you bat for the other team ??


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