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WHAT THE LONGEST STUDY ON HUMAN HAPPINESS FOUND IS THE KEY TO A GOOD LIFE

The Harvard Study of Adult Development has established a strong correlation between deep relationships and well-being. The question is, how does a person nurture those deep relationships?



Since 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has been investigating what makes people flourish. After starting with 724 participants—boys from disadvantaged and troubled families in Boston, and Harvard undergraduates—the study incorporated the spouses of the original men and, more recently, more than 1,300 descendants of the initial group.


Researchers periodically interview participants, ask them to fill out questionnaires, and collect information about their physical health. As the study’s director (Bob) and associate director (Marc), we’ve been able to watch participants fall in and out of relationships, find success and failure at their jobs, become mothers and fathers. It’s the longest in-depth longitudinal study on human life ever done, and it’s brought us to a simple and profound conclusion:



Good relationships lead to health and happiness.


The trick is that those relationships must be nurtured.

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