The Hidden Key To Happy Aging Is Right In Front Of Us

There is no reason the happiest day of your life can’t be every day. Sure, there are pivotal moments in your life that you can’t recreate; like falling in love, getting married, or having a baby.

Monumental experiences help shape the direction of your life, but the connections you make on a day-to-day basis make it rich with meaning.

Harvard University has empirically proven this to be the case. A study that has survived a few directors has proven to give humanity something worth listening to.

Through one of the longest human development studies in the world, psychologists have discovered some priceless insights into maintaining not only a happy life but a healthy one.

The longitudinal study began in 1938, with 268 Harvard sophomores. Almost 80 years later, research is going strong with subsequent generations of the original participants, and members of an additional study, contributing.

Harvard Gazette reported:

In addition, scientists eventually expanded their research to include the men’s offspring, who now number 1,300 and are in their 50s and 60s, to find out how early-life experiences affect health and aging over time.

 In the 1970s, 456 Boston inner-city residents were enlisted as part of the Glueck Study, and 40 of them are still alive. More than a decade ago, researchers began including wives in the Grant and Glueck studies.”

The Crimson Boys from Harvard, as they have been endearingly called, and the Glueck participants, spent most of their lives giving vital data to the progression of human happiness.

Being that this study began during the Great Depression, an optimistic forecast for a happy life that existed outside of one’s circumstances was more than expanding psychological wisdom, it gave hope.

A few impressive names are amongst the first recruits, such as the late President John F. Kennedy and well-known Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.

Researchers not only looked at the various facets of the participants’ health but delved deep into their lives to include, “their triumphs and failures in careers and marriage”, according to the Harvard Gazette.

Robert Waldinger is the director of the study, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The heavily accredited director said:

The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

 It is not monetary gain or material possessions that determine the psychological well-being of an individual. Being happy means letting another person share in our journey of life.

The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80,” said Waldinger.

Our choices we make today in our relationships affect the way we will feel tomorrow.

Harvard Gazette reported:

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants.”

The National Institutes of Health has funded most of the research through grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

The caliber of the agency that believes in the study’s findings, and application in enriching lives, is an accolade to the researchers who sifted through mass data, medical records, interviews, and questionnaires to uncover the correlations between mankind and relationships.

It isn’t just the relationship of a significant other that is beneficial to longevity. The relationships with family, friends, and community showed to be equally important.

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Harvard Gazette reported:

Several studies found that people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were.”

This is a phenomenal discovery, seeming we are just coming out of a medical age that thought genetic makeup wrote our fate.

As a matter of fact, Waldinger warns that not establishing meaningful relationships, and living as a “loner” is “as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”

Over the course of a lifetime, the study, also, found that having a social life helps to curb mental deterioration.

Don’t let a genetic statistical probability shape your physical and mental health. Invest in those that enrich your life, and utilize your support systems to strengthen bonds.

Your life may depend on the vulnerability with your husband, that phone call to a friend, or the reminiscing with your mother.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have an experience where a relationship gave you a more positive prognosis in your mental or physical health.

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