According to an 80-year-old Harvard study, good friends are more important to happiness than success or money.
The study, the longest one on adult life, started tracking 268 Harvard students during the Great Depression in 1938.
Eighty years later, researchers have revealed how happy we are in our relationships has a strong influence on happiness, and as a result, on our overall health.
The original participants in the eight-decade long study included President John F Kennedy and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, writes Harvard Gazette.
The men included in the study were given regular interviews and questionnaires throughout the course of the study.
Nineteen of the original recruits are still alive and now the men’s offspring too are included in the study.
Researchers studied their health and broader lives of the participants, including things like how successful their careers and marriages turned out to be and found good friends protected people from mental and physical decline, and gave a better idea of how long someone's life will be than their social class, IQ or genes.
Speaking about it, said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said, “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” adding, “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.
Researchers found that the quality of people's relationships at 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels.
'The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80', said Dr Waldinger discussing the research in a TED talk.
The results showed that participants who had a nurturing family environment early in life were more likely to have secure relationships in their 80s.