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How to Live the Good Life with Dr. Robert Waldinger

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What makes for a good life? According to the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the simple answer is good relationships. Brian recently interviewed psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, to understand why strong social connections help people to have happier, healthier and longer lives. Here are some of the top takeaways:

Connect with others

It’s a well-known fact that taking good care of your health will help you to live longer. But the surprise finding of the Harvard Study is that one of the strongest predictors of staying happy and healthy is the quality of your connections with others. People who have respectful and affectionate relationships – even with occasional arguments – stay healthier and live longer than those who don’t. If you want to live a good life, you must focus on building warm relationships.

Be intentional

Unfortunately, our society has become more and more disconnected in recent times – a phenomenon that was exacerbated by Covid-19. In today’s world, many people are more distant from each other than ever before, a state of affairs that ultimately negatively impacts their health and happiness. The truth is, taking care of your relationships should be a fitness practice, just the way you take care of your body. You can’t go to the gym once and think you’ve got your fitness covered, and it’s the same for connections with others. Relationships with your friends and family are vital to a good life, so work to build a strong network by continuously reaching out, investing in your community and making plans with people.

Use digital media the right way

How you use digital media affects whether your well-being improves or deteriorates. If you utilize it to actively build connections with other people, it can have a positive effect on your happiness. But if you’re always simply passively consuming social media, aimlessly scrolling through other people’s Instagram feeds for example, your self-esteem can plummet and depression can increase. The problem is, looking at other people’s curated version of life can make you believe you’re the only one who doesn’t have everything figured out. Technology isn’t the enemy and it can enhance your relationships, but the key is to be proactive, not passive.

No relationship is perfect. Everyone encounters rocky patches with family and friends. But if you can work through disagreements and stay curious about – and engaged with – other people, your relationships will strengthen and your happiness will increase. To learn more, listen to the latest episode of “It’s a Good Life”.

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