[00:00.00]From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.
[00:05.66]What will most help you lead a long happy and healthy life?
[00:11.37]Is it making lots of money?
[00:14.36]Is it a great job that you enjoy?
[00:17.55]Perhaps it’s fame.
[00:20.02]If you ask a young person, many are likely to give you one of those answers. Or possibly all three.
[00:29.23]Some cultures put more importance on work and money than others.
[00:34.65]Americans can be obsessed with their jobs and making money.
[00:40.38]They might feel the need to make lots of money for education, medical care, homes and cars.
[00:48.39]But it’s not just about the money.
[00:51.72]For many Americans, self-worth is linked to our professional success or failure.
[00:59.20]Many of us spend most of our lives working – sacrificing other activities.
[01:06.21]Imagine if we could visit our older selves and ask -- "What would you have done differently to be truly happy?"
[01:17.17]But we can’t do that.
[01:19.85]We could learn about what makes people happy, and what does not, by studying people over the course of their lives.
[01:29.69]For almost 80 years, Harvard Medical School researchers have been doing just that.
[01:38.08]The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history.
[01:48.18]Since 1938, it has followed the lives of a group of men from their teen years to old age.
[01:57.30]Later, the researchers began to follow their wives and children, as well.
[02:03.93]The study finds that wealth, social position and an important job title do not necessarily lead to health and happiness.
[02:16.38]Robert Waldinger is the current director of the study.
[02:21.34]He is a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School.
[02:27.71]Waldinger shared some of the findings with a Harvard Gazette reporter.
[02:33.24]He said, "The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health."
[02:44.87]He added, "taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too.
[02:53.76]In 2015, he discussed the study in a TED Talk called, “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.”
[03:05.58]The video of the talk has been viewed more than 19.5 million times.
[03:13.13]In the talk, Waldinger says, “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains."
[03:21.55]He says close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives -- not money or fame.
[03:30.86]These close relationships protect people from the difficult times that come with growing older.
[03:38.26]They protect against physical and mental decline.
[03:42.98]The study suggests that strong relationships have a better chance of making a long, happy life than social class, intelligence or even genetics.
[03:55.83]And, it is not just romantic relationships.
[03:59.97]Waldinger says the relationships we make and care for throughout the years with friends, family members and co-workers are just as important.
[04:12.81]The professor adds that strong, close relationships can experience difficult periods.
[04:19.66]They’re not perfect.
[04:21.67] But, he says dependability in a relationship is most important.
[04:28.48]He says people need friends they can turn to when life gets hard.
[04:34.34]In the TED Talk, Waldinger explains how the researchers collect information for the study.
[04:41.77]Researchers send a list of questions to the participants.
[04:46.44]They interview them in their homes, examine their medical records, take blood for testing and take brain images.
[04:56.80]They talk with wives and children of the participants.
[05:01.84]The researchers also video tape the participants talking with their wives.
[05:08.17]Clark Heath, the first director of the study, led it from 1938 to 1954.
[05:16.00]The study at that time included 268 physically and mentally healthy Harvard college students.
[05:25.07]At the time, common scientific thought was that physical strength, a high social position and a happy childhood were the strongest predictors of a healthy life.
[05:39.15]Researchers at the time also thought genetic-based elements, like intelligence, played a main part in predicting happiness or unhappiness.
[05:51.56]So, early on, the research did not include examination of participants’ relationships.
[05:59.14]Then in 1966, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School joined the research team.
[06:09.60]George E. Vaillant changed the direction of the study.
[06:14.70]He added a second group of participants -- more than 400 teenagers from some of Boston's poorest neighborhoods.
[06:25.08]He also expanded the study to include wives and children of the participants.
[06:32.34]Vaillant placed a greater importance on investigating the relationships of those in the study.
[06:40.81]He wrote that when "the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment.
[06:47.78]But the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.”
[06:55.27]He followed the successes and failures of the participants in their relationships, family responsibilities and careers.
[07:05.76]He followed their recoveries as well.
[07:09.59]He led the study for more than forty years and then wrote a book about the findings.
[07:16.24]In Triumphs of Experience:
[07:19.55]The Men of the Harvard Grant Study,
[07:21.69]he writes: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward conclusion: Happiness is love."
[07:35.79]Current director Robert Waldinger, ended his Ted Talk with this advice from American writer Mark Twain.
[07:43.76]So, we will too.
[07:46.08]“There isn't time -- so brief is life -- for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account.
[07:55.87]There is only time for loving -- & but an instant, so to speak, for that.”
[08:02.51]And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.
[08:05.34]I’m Anna Matteo.