May 24, 2023
What’s the key to a happy, long and healthy life? Is there a secret? A magic recipe? According to Robert Waldinger, the answer lies in relationships governed by "secure attachment."
Waldinger is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. For years, he has directed the longest study ever conducted on happiness and wellbeing in people's lives: the 'Study of Adult Development' at Harvard Medical School. After more than eighty years of interviewing hundreds of people, the findings of this research might seem surprising. As Dr. Waldinger explained: "People with better relationships live longer and are happier and healthier.” So interpersonal relationships are a key factor not only in our happiness, but also in our physical health and longevity. "For anyone, it's critical to have at least one or two trusting and secure relationships in life," Waldinger added.
According to the Harvard study, being active in our social relationships gives us a sense of belonging, trust and "secure attachment." This in turn regulates our stress levels and can even prevent the onset of diabetes or heart disease. "Spending quality time with people we care about, or with whom we have a hobby in common, is essential to feeling fulfilled and taking care of our health," Waldinger stated. This impressive research, spanning more than eight decades, forms the basis of the book 'The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness' (2023), written alongside Robert Waldinger’s friend and research partner, Marc Schulz.