Good Relationships Make a Good Life

Long-Term Studies Reveal Keys to Happiness

Want to be happy? Develop and maintain close relationships with people you can count on. Be your true self with them. Those are the keys according to two long-term studies conducted by Harvard University.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship. It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

So says Robert Waldinger, current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest longitudinal studies ever conducted on our physical and emotional well-being.

As author Melanie Curtin points out in her summary[1] of this study, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at … or how much power you wielded … No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.”[2]

Note that “love” doesn’t necessarily mean a romantic relationship. It’s more about having someone to rely on.

In quality relationships we

  • feel more relaxed
  • enjoy better brain health
  • feel less emotional and physical pain
  • avoid loneliness, which keeps us healthier longer[3]

What makes quality relationships?

  • how much vulnerability and depth exists within them
  • how safe we feel sharing with one another
  • the extent to which we can relax and be seen for who we truly are, and truly see another
  • being able to cope with trauma in ways that don’t push love away

I encourage you to read more of the author’s tips to prioritize your connections and your capacity to process emotions and stress. As she so aptly states, “… the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.”[4]

Peace and happiness,


Dr. Pamm

[1] Melanie Curtin, “This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life,” Inc., Feb. 27, 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.