What matters at the end?

The TED talk I am sharing in this post is one of the most popular TED talks and it is based on the longest social studies ever conducted in the world – it is being conducted for almost 75 years now. I have been planning to write about this for some time, but somehow it just slipped.

Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest. He is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and fourth director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development – probably the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age.

In this TED talk Waldinger shares some important lessons he learned from this 75-year old study and how to build a fulfilling, long life.

When most young people are asked about their aspirations and life goals, their answers mostly revolve around money & fame. Yet, as this long study revealed, these two factors have little effect on  true happiness and satisfaction in life. So what really matters at the end?

In their study they studied 724 men for 75 years, and 60 out of those 724 men are still alive and still participating in the study and generations of researchers have shown exceptional perseverance; they are now studying around 2000 children of these men. Since 1938 they tracked lives of groups of men – one from prestigious Harvard and other from underprivileged neighborhoods in Boston. They have studied their wellbeing, profession, relationships, medical records and several other things over the years. What this research has discovered is profound yet simple, it can be summed up in a single statement.

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

The three lessons they learned about relationships are worth watching & listening – especially along with pictures of the men and their families who participated in this study. I’d urge you to watch this entire video mindfully to see how Waldinger unfolds these insights from this incredible study about human wellbeing.


About the featured image:

The featured image for this article is a free wallpaper from QuoteFancy and it features a quote by one of my favourite authors, Richard Bach, it captures crux of this talk really well with the photo credited to Mickey O’neil. I am using this image here with gratitude.