Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. That is what Robert Waldinger, Head of the “Harvard University Study of Adult Development”, says his research has discovered. Waldinger is the fourth head of a study which has been running for 75 years.

The study follows the lives of 724 men, and 2000 of these participants children (Sometime after the start of the study wives were included!!!}. It involves the completion and management of an extensive survey by participants every alternate year and goes with a simultaneous detailed medical examination.

Waldringer suggests that today there is an emphasis, particularly among younger people, which thinks that fame, wealth, and high achievement are the keys to a good life. Not so, according to the above Harvard study, it is rather relationships which deliver the “Holy Grail”. He makes three points;

  1. Social connections are really good for us. Loneliness kills. The research reveals that people who are socially connected to their family and their community are happier;
  2. Isolated people are less happy and more likely to have health issues than those surrounded by family and friends – It is not just the  number of friends, you have, or whether you are in a committed relationship, it is the quality of those relationships that matter; and
  3. Those who are living in conflict tend to develop bad health, while those living in a warm relationship are healthier. For individuals in their 50’s, it is not so much about health, but how satisfied they were in their relationships that determined the state of their health.

I also offer some pertinent remarks, selected from “Retirement Ready”, Bruce Manners valuable publication (ISBN Number 9781925044423). This include

Good relationships do not just protect our bodies, they also protect our brain.

Being in a secure relationship gives a sense of safety and protection, particularly for an older person. This happens when such people feel they can count on another person in times of need.

A good relationship is not necessarily always smooth; and, finally

For those heading for retirement, it is working on relationships now that will continue in retirement.


The importance of good relationships in those living in retirement cannot be overstated. Force yourself to remain open to making, nurturing and treasuring such contacts, they are truly life-giving.

Thank you for reading this article, I hope it has been of value.