“Connection with a loved one is oxygen for us all.”
- Dr. Sue Johnson
Numerous studies have been conducted with the following question in mind: How can one lead a fulfilling life? For years, this question has boggled the minds of many people. What is the answer, exactly? Is it more money? A successful career? More material goods? As we live in a world where we must divide our attention among so many factors – career, home life, social life…, prioritizing our lives in hopes of gaining fulfillment can be difficult.
The Grant and Glueck study, which seeks to answer this mind-boggling question, did so in an impressive and revolutionary way. Over a period of 75 years, a series of researchers tracked and studied the physical and emotional well-being of more than 700 people. According to Robert Waldinger, the current director of the Harvard University study, the answer to a fulfilling life is simple: good quality relationships lead to happier, healthier and more fulfilled individuals.
The key word here is quality. It is not about the number of friends that you have in your circle, or how long you have been with your romantic partner. It is rather the closeness of the relationship that matters. How safe do you feel with the person? How deep is your relationship with them? How vulnerable can you be around them? These are all questions that can measure the quality of a relationship.
Having that special connection with someone has significant physiological, emotional, psychological and physical repercussions. For instance, a more relaxed nervous system, a clearer and healthier brain and reduced physical and emotional pain are some of the benefits named in the study. So the next time you are on your phone, aimlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram instead of being present with a close friend or significant other, consider putting the phone down – for the sake of your mental health, among other things.
It is important to note, however, that not fully dealing with your own emotional or mental distress caused by difficult life events, such as losing a family member, losing a job, or a car accident, can potentially damage the quality of a relationship. This is a good reminder to seek help from a professional if you are struggling through personal issues. Your happiness depends on it.