The Good Life

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According to a World’s longest scientific study of Happiness conducted by researchers at the Harvard University, “the strength of a person’s connections with others can predict the health of both their body and their brain as they go through life”.

The results of this study are published by Dr. Robert Waldinger and Dr. Marc Shultz in their recent book The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness (available from Amazon, $19.22).

According to the cover of the book (via Amazon’s book description) is that “relationships” makes life full feeling and meaningful. “The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives.”

According the study all types of relationships – friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups— all contribute to a happier, healthier life.

Dr Waldinger’s the following TED talk video has been view by 23M people from around the world, including yours truly.

In this The Daily Guardian review, Dr. Mohit Gupta, a Professor of Cardiology at the GB Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, New Delhi, summarizes the highlights of the study:

  • Perception is everything. It is common to see people responding differently to the same situation. Inner strength, endurance, and understanding are what determine our response. In fact, when we are unable to realize this, we experience pain because of other people. When we change the way we look at people, the people we look at change!
  • Catastrophic thinking is harmful. We never die of the snake bite. Once we are bitten, we cannot be ‘unbitten’. It is the poison that spreads after that which is toxic. Similarly, analyzing and judging people and their behavior destroys our inner peace and brings pain. Every person and situation comes with a wrapped gift; a lesson; our duty is to unwrap it and learn.
  • Acceptance and appreciation create magic. When people and relationships are going through difficult times, I choose to understand, empathize and accept them. Withholding criticism and undesirable statements is very helpful. When we appreciate someone for little things, we increase their value and this nurtures relationships. If we want to cure our relationships, we need to guard our thoughts and words carefully.
  • Are we seeing life in mirror or through a window. We often look at life through our own personal acquired filters, our own past experiences, beliefs, and paradigms. In this process, we lose the objective reality and start analyzing people and situations according to our comfort zone. This is unhealthy for relationships.
  • Action speaks louder than words. Doing small things with great love is what heals relationships. We can have the best intentions in the world, but our lives are measured by our actions. If you mean well but do not do well, no one can read your mind. At the end of the day, what counts is what we do.
  • Compassion facilitates open communication. It enables us to view others’ perspective, position and circumstances with kindness. Any situation can be handled with gentleness, avoiding any form of conflict.
  • Pure vibrations can create magic. When nothing else works, silence in the mind, purity and love in thoughts can do wonders. Our thoughts have the power to reach every person at whom they are directed. Practicing a few minutes of meditation is the best way to empower our thoughts.

An interview by the Harvard Medicine magazine with Dr. Waldinger is found in this transcript link.