A Harvard Study has found an alleged key to having a long and healthy life, according to the NY Times. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that it is not money or fame (what most people want), but rather strong relationships with family, friends, and spouses.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been researching the factors of what allows people to have long and healthy lives since 1938, when they started following 700 men and some of their wives. The current director of the study, Robert Waldinger, has even created a TED Talk about the study.
In the beginning, Harvard sophomores were chosen along with a group of young men from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston. These men were followed throughout their lives with frequent physicals and interviews in order to see how they were doing. While some became doctors and lawyers, and John F. Kennedy even became the President of the United States, others fell into mental illness, sickness, and disappointing careers. Using this study, some important discoveries were made.
Physically, it was found that the single greatest factor for being healthy was to not smoke. Also, liberals had more active sex lives than conservatives. Alcohol abuse was the number one reason for divorce amongst the men.
Dr. Waldinger expanded the study so that it went into the households of the people that were being studied. Using video cameras and family interviews, he found that the stronger the family connections and relationships, the less people came down with chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, or memory decline.
The key factor of maintaining strong relationships and having a healthy life is a correlation. It is not proven that strong relationships are a causation for living long and happily. There could also be the coincidence that people who are healthy just tend to be more social, whereas people who are sick tend to isolate themselves.
It is important to reach out to people and make connections with others. Especially since being in college takes us away from some of our family and high school friends, it is important to communicate. No matter if they are a family member or a friend, give someone a call and catch up; you'll probably feel better when you do.
Lead Image Credit: Gobonobono via Wikicommons