Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
Robert Waldinger - Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest
Robert Waldinger is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Full bio
and your energy?
most important life goals were,
was to get rich.
of those same young adults
to lean in to work, to push harder
are the things that we need to go after
and how those choices work out for them,
are almost impossible to get.
to remember the past,
is anything but 20/20.
of what happens to us in life,
is downright creative.
from the time that they were teenagers
happy and healthy?
of adult life that's ever been done.
the lives of 724 men,
their home lives, their health,
without knowing how their life stories
fall apart within a decade
drop out of the study,
further down the field.
of several generations of researchers,
of two groups of men.
at Harvard College.
during World War II,
to serve in the war.
from Boston's poorest neighborhoods,
from some of the most troubled
many without hot and cold running water.
and we interviewed their parents.
grew up into adults
and bricklayers and doctors,
A few developed schizophrenia.
all the way to the very top,
in the opposite direction.
standing here today, 75 years later,
the study still continues.
and dedicated research staff
and asks them if we can send them
about their lives.
My life just isn't that interesting."
of these lives,
from their doctors.
about their deepest concerns.
we finally asked the wives
as members of the study,
"You know, it's about time."
from the tens of thousands of pages
or fame or working harder and harder.
from this 75-year study is this:
happier and healthier. Period.
are really good for us,
who are more socially connected
and they live longer
turns out to be toxic.
than they want to be from others
than people who are not lonely.
is that at any given time,
will report that they're lonely.
can be lonely in a crowd
the number of friends you have,
you're in a committed relationship,
of your close relationships that matters.
of conflict is really bad for our health.
without much affection,
perhaps worse than getting divorced.
warm relationships is protective.
all the way into their 80s,
into a happy, healthy octogenarian
everything we knew about them
were going to grow old.
in their relationships.
in their relationships at age 50
seem to buffer us
of getting old.
when they had more physical pain,
in unhappy relationships,
reported more physical pain,
about relationships and our health
don't just protect our bodies,
in a securely attached relationship
on the other person in times of need,
stay sharper longer.
can't count on the other one,
earlier memory decline.
they don't have to be smooth all the time.
could bicker with each other
could really count on the other
on their memories.
are good for our health and well-being,
and so easy to ignore?
and keep them that way.
and they're complicated
to family and friends,
who were the happiest in retirement
to replace workmates with new playmates.
in that recent survey,
were starting out as young adults
and high achievement
to have a good life.
our study has shown
the people who leaned in to relationships,
or you're 40, or you're 60.
to relationships even look like?
are practically endless.
as replacing screen time with people time
by doing something new together,
who you haven't spoken to in years,
from Mark Twain.
heartburnings, callings to account.
so to speak, for that."
with good relationships.
About the speaker:Robert Waldinger - Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest
Robert Waldinger is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history.
Why you should listen
Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science and Zen can teach us about healthy human development.
Dr. Waldinger is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as two books. He teaches medical students and psychiatry residents at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and he is a Senior Dharma Teacher in Boundless Way Zen.
To keep abreast of research findings, insights and more, visit robertwaldinger.com.
Robert Waldinger | Speaker | TED.com