6 Keys to the Good Life: #3 Rock Solid Relationships

By: Stuart Porter, NP


Almost 80 years ago, Harvard began the Study of Adult Development  to better understand the factors that lead to a long, healthy, and happy life. Business Insider then analyzed the results of the study and came up with six things that can help people live longer and be happier .  

We have previously written on the first two keys to the good life, avoiding tobacco and alcohol  and getting a college education . Now we will break down the third thing that Harvard and Business Insider say is the secret to a longer, happier life: a happy childhood.  

The Benefits of a Happy Childhood

The Study of Adult Development determined that it wasn’t parental income or status that affected children into adulthood but whether or not they felt loved by their parents. Additionally, how well a child adjusted in junior high could affect their future.  Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time to re-do your childhood, but if you didn’t have a happy childhood and it is affecting you now, there are some things you can do to move forward productively.  

Nourish Your Current Relationships

In his book, director of the Study of Adult Development, George E. Valliant, says that although a happy childhood can set us up for success, an unhappy one doesn’t doom us. If love and support come later in your life, in the form of friends or a romantic partner, the damage of a rough childhood can be reversed. Even a good marriage at age 50 predicted positive aging at 80.  

“It is not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people who happen to us at any age that facilitate enjoyable old age,” says Valliant. So your past doesn’t have to determine the success of your present and future relationships. You just have to remember that there are other aspects of a relationship that you need to nourish besides love, including:  

  • Respect. Respect who your partner is, their life goals, their beliefs, and everything else about them. And make sure your partner respects those things about you.  
  • Trust. If you don’t trust your partner and they don’t trust you, you will never feel secure in your relationship. And that insecurity will make it harder to build a solid relationship.  
  • Honesty. Don’t keep secrets or lie to your partner. Dishonesty leads to distrust, which isn’t healthy for a relationship.  
  • Communication. The best way to avoid conflict and work through disagreements is to communicate with your partner. Neither of you can give the other what they need if you don’t know what that is.  

In our next post on this study, we will dive deeper into the importance of relationships and emotional intelligence. So if you are interested in learning more about how to build a solid relationship, stay tuned.  

Love Your Children

Because this study has determined how important love is to a child’s adult development, another thing you can do is help make sure your children get the support they need. You can do this by actively listening to them, verbally praising them often, and encouraging their goals and aspirations.  

You can also make sure to regularly spend time with your children. Your attention will help them understand how much you want them to succeed, increasing their chances of a happy and healthy life down the road.  

All relationships take work, whether they are platonic, romantic, or family relationships. But the work that you put in will reap great rewards in the form of mental and physical health.  

To learn more about your mental health, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist.

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.