In 1938, Harvard University embarked on a groundbreaking study, following the lives of 268 men from young adulthood to old age. Over the decades, researchers collected data on their physical health, mental health, relationships, careers, and more, in an effort to answer the question: What makes for a good life?

Now, in the book “The Good Life: What Makes a Life Worth Living?” authors Robert J. Waldinger and Marc S. Schulz share insights from this study, highlighting the role of intimate close relationships in promoting health and well-being.

The study found that people who had strong, supportive relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners tended to be happier, healthier, and more successful in life. Conversely, those who lacked these connections were more likely to experience physical and mental health problems, and to die younger.

The authors argue that our culture often emphasizes material success and individual achievement, at the expense of social connections. But the Harvard study shows that social relationships are essential to a good life.

The book offers practical advice for cultivating these relationships, such as investing time and energy in meaningful conversations with loved ones, prioritizing quality time over quantity, and learning to resolve conflicts in a healthy way.

One of the most striking findings of the study is that the quality of our relationships matters more than the quantity. It’s not just about having a lot of friends or acquaintances, but about having close, supportive relationships with a few key people. These relationships can provide us with a sense of purpose, belonging, and meaning, which can be more important to our overall well-being than any material possessions or accomplishments.

The authors also emphasize the importance of vulnerability and authenticity in relationships. Being willing to share our fears, hopes, and vulnerabilities with others can help us to build deeper, more meaningful connections. And, in turn, these connections can help us to cope with life’s challenges, whether they be health problems, job stress, or other difficulties.

Overall, “The Good Life” offers a compelling argument for the importance of social connections in promoting health, happiness, and well-being. Whether you’re just starting out in life or looking back on a long career, this book provides valuable insights into what really matters for a fulfilling and satisfying life.