The research project, the longest in-depth study of physical and mental well-being among adults, began in 1938 with 724 participants. It now includes 1,300 descendants of its original participants.
There’s no set number of connections you need to have. If you have everything you need in your family, that’s great. Maybe, you don’t need a wider circle. But what the study found is that the benefits of relationships come from anywhere. They certainly come from family, but they can come from friends, from work colleagues, and we even get small bits of well-being from a chat with the person who makes coffee for us in the coffee shop or from a chat with the cashier who checks us out in the grocery store, or the mail carrier. What the research says is that everybody needs at least one solid relationship, someone whom they feel they can count on in times of need.
If we have something upsetting happen during the day, and we’re churning or ruminating about it, we go home and talk to our wife, husband,a friend, or a family member and if that person is a good listener, we can literally feel our body calm down. But if you don’t have anyone like that, and many people don’t, if you are isolated or you don’t have a confidant, what happens is that the body stays in a kind of low-level fight-or-flight mode, and that means that there are higher levels of circulating stress hormones and higher levels of inflammation, and those things can gradually wear away many body systems.
Similarly, fame or high achievement won’t make us happier. That’s important to keep in mind because we tell each other a lot of stories about what’s going to make us happy. We get these messages all day long from ads that convey the message that if you just buy this thing, you’ll be happier, or they show people living these beautiful and wealthy lives, and that’s the key to a happy life. It turns out that’s not true.
Source: The Harvard Gazette