By Charity Hotton, LAMFT
In the longest study of relationships in history, spanning 75 years and counting, Harvard University discovered that it is not money, power, likes, or possessions that leads to a long and happy life, it is the quality of our relationships.
Good, close relationships with family and friends resulted in longer life span, an overall better sense of well-being, and happiness regardless of socioeconomic status or other factors. Happily partnered 80 year olds might have the same number of health concerns as their counterparts, but they reported less impact from them than 80 year olds in unhappy relationships. They reported a happier outlook on their longevity and expressed a desire to continue living. In other words, people in stable, satisfying relationships were more fulfilled and optimistic.
On the flipside, those with poor relationships or those who felt isolated had more health concerns and lower recovery rates. They had higher incidence of dementia, lower IQ as they aged, and overall poorer health. Related to this, the researchers found that high conflict marriage is actually worse for brain function and overall health than divorce due to the high level of stress hormones created in volatile relationships.
Components of ‘good’ relationships include: feeling connected, valued, competent, and listened to. In addition, being able to count on your loved ones is also highly connected to overall health and happiness.
Couples who reported that they ‘work’ on their relationships despite hard times are shown to have the best outcomes for long-term happiness.
It isn’t the number of relationships one has, it is the quality of those relationships that is the key.
Here are some ideas you can try to start today and make a positive impact in your relationships:
Therapy can be an empowering and healing process. If you or someone you love would benefit from therapy or if you want to be closer to a loved one but just aren’t able to get there on your own, we would be honored to be part of your journey and a step toward a long, happy, and fulfilled life. Call us at 801-432-0883 for a free 15-minute consultation; we are happy to meet with you for a consultation in person or by phone.
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