13 Apr Happiness: the joy of health and longevity
Fitness Retreat between San Francisco and San Jose, CA
At Skylonda Lodge, we believe that happiness is a habit that improves health and longevity.
Many of us don’t make happiness a priority because we think that it doesn’t matter to our health or success. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. According to The Harvard Study of Adult Development if you want to live a long life, good genes are nice, but joy is better. Negativity undercuts our creativity, raises our stress levels, and lowers our motivation and ability to accomplish goals.
And what is one of the biggest, most misunderstood contributors to our happiness? Relationships. The quality of time and energy we exchange with others, the experiences we have with friends, family, and in the community – these are are significant, driving factor in our happiness and satisfaction with life.
This study has quite the perspective and data to draw from. It’s been active for the last 80 years, accumulating insights from 724 men from a variety of socioeconomic background. The main takeaway?
Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.
Current Study Director (there’s been four so far in the study’s historic lineage) Robert Waldinger reports:
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
Waldinger’s landmark TEDtalk is available to stream in full below. We encourage you to engage in the practice of self-care and give yourself the time to watch it to gather insights on how you can provide the healthy social conditions that help assure your happiness.
In the talk, Waldinger highlights three main takeaways, outlined below.
THE GOOD LIFE IS BUILT WITH GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
I. Social connections are really good for us (and loneliness kills).
Those more socially connected with family, friends, and community throughout the course of their life tended to be healthier, happier, and to live long. Lonely people (those that are less connected than they want to be) individuals were found to be less happy and less healthy. Compared to those with healthy and happy relationships, lonely individuals experienced faster cognitive decline and lived shortened lives. For the sake of your health, it is important to reflect on your the state of your relationships and put yourself in the best position for a pleasant web of positive relationships.
II. It’s not the number of friends or being in a committed relationship, it’s the quality of the close relationships that matter.
Waldinger makes an important point – it’s the quality not the quantity of relationships that matter here. Warm, healthy, and supportive relationships put us in a good mood, and this positive mood helps contextualize and alleviate physical pain. Conversely, conflicted relationships put you in a bad mood, and this negative mood only serves to magnify the physical discomforts of getting older. The people most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.
As Waldinger remarks, “good, close relationships can buffer us against the sling and arrows of getting old”.
III. Good relationships don’t just product our bodies, they protect our brains.
Having securely attached relationships (those relationships you can “count on”) into your 80s is neuroprotective. Memories stay sharper longer. Comparatively, the study showed that when you can’t count on your partner or family relationships, earlier memory decline is to be expected. Relationships don’t need to be pure “sunshine and butterflies” to be healthy. Rocky, dynamic relationships are a natural part of life. With respect to personal happiness, the important component to long-term relationships is that they remain consistently supportive.
Good, close relationships that are full of support are good for our health and well-being. We like to think that this is one of the main things we offer through our immersive wellness retreats – the opportunity to forge new, healthy relationships with your peers and our staff of experts. Just as important, an all inclusive retreat with us can help you hold space in your life to allow for these new relationships to have time to organically form in a manner that’s built for the long-run.
At Skylonda Lodge, we believe the fastest and easiest way to a happy life is a positive mindset. We think that if you focus on the good, not only will you open your mind to the ideas and opportunities that will help you flourish, but you will see positive ripple effects in your organizations, families and communities.
Long live happiness. And long live the power of positive relationships. Ultimately, what we would like to say is: long live you.