Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with romantic love, so much so that people who are not in romantic relationships may feel left out on that dreaded 14th day of February. Wouldn’t it be better if Valentine’s Day were a day to celebrate all types of love? Family, friends, and partners. Well, some pretty smart people have made strong cases about the benefits of investing in all of our relationships.
Did you know that people who are surrounded by good friends and family throughout their lives live longer than those who are more isolated? As a mother of six children and the eldest of nine siblings, there have been more days than I can count that I have longed for the peace and tranquility of isolation. Perhaps I should be grateful for the relentless barrage of humans in my life.
“People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected,” said Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger in his TED Talk, titled “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness.”
So many studies on health, longevity, and happiness seem to be coming to the same conclusion. Studies like the Blue Zones Project, originally commissioned by National Geographic, the term coined in the 2005 cover story, “The Secrets of a Long Life” by Dan Buettner, and the Harvard Study of Adult Development, an 80-year study of adult life. These and more all come to the amazing and beautiful conclusion that humans need humans in order to live long, healthy lives.
Then we have more corroborating information from yet another Harvard man, Shawn Achor, who is a full-time happiness researcher, bestselling author of “The Happiness Advantage” and founder of Goodthink, Inc. and the Institute of Applied Positive Research. In his popular TED Talk titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” Achor states, “Social connection is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness we have. It trumps everything else we do…We have recently found that social connection is as predictive of how long a person will live as obesity, high blood pressure or smoking.”
Can you believe that? Our relationships can predict our longevity as accurately as our blood pressure or smoking? As a healthy living professional, this information blew my mind!
What’s the takeaway?
We need each other. Investing time and effort in our relationships is as important to our health and well-being as eating well, exercise and sleep. So, the next time your coworker asks you to lunch or your child wants to tell you a story, don’t pass up the opportunity for work or chores. Those relationships will ultimately help you live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Happy Valentine’s Day and cheers to LOVE in all of your relationships!