imgres-1In a 75 year study, the longest study on happiness currently led by Robert Waldinger, the bottom line that keeps us happiest and healthiest the longest is this: good relationships.

The study began with men in their teens and lasted into their 80s and extended beyond to their families. By age 50, those who were most satisfied in their relationships were the healthiest by age 80. Cholesterol levels weren’t the determining factor. Wealth was not the determining factor. Nor was fame or working harder.

The bottom line? Mutually secure relationships.

It’s not the number of friendships that are linked to happiness; it’s the quality of the close relationships that matter.

The Connection, a documentary by Shannon Harvey, also supports this notion. Those who feel loved, connected and supported are physically healthier and emotionally more vibrant than those who feel lonely, depressed or more isolated than they’d like.

images-2A staggering fact for women stung me instantly: Most women balance their family, job, home, and friends. The first thing they’ll drop is friendship in order to maintain the other three, but friendship is exactly what she needs. She needs a touchy-feely community…socializing, support, understanding, and fun!

I chose to stay home for seven years while my kids were little, and approaching the end of the 7th year now and re-entering the world of “work”, there is a delicate balance I intentionally create. And just like Harvey’s documentary states, the balance is between my family, the home, and my “job”. The time I spend with friends has waned, and so I find myself more intentional to carve out time imageswith friends…life-giving encounters and mutually secure communion with those who both ground my feet and soar my heart and spirit…

…and what I have found is that I’m a better mom, wife, and worker when I’m happier!

According to Waldinger’s study, good relationships are essential to happiness and healthy especially when the study confirms that 1 in 5 Americans will report they’re lonely.images-1

So how can you increase deep lasting happiness? Lean into your relationships. Swap screen time for people time. Be intentional to reach out and get together with friends. Try something new with your significant other. Connect both in vulnerability and in simply enjoyment!

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Rachel Thalmann

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