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Harvard study: What makes us live better? -2


We've learned 3 big lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community are happier. They are physically healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People, who are more isolated than they want to be from others, find that they're less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is, that at any given time, more than 1 in 5 Americans will report, that they are lonely. And we know that you can be lonely in a crowd, and you can be lonely in a marriage.


So the 2nd big lesson that we learned is that it's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you are in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflicts is really bad for our health. High conflicted marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health – perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships, is protective. Once we've followed our men all the way into their 80s, we wanted to look back at them at mid-life, and to see if we can predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy octogenarian and who wasn't. And when we gather together, everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn't their middle age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old. It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people, who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50, were the healthiest at age 80. And good close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women, reported in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their moods stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.


And the 3rd big lesson that we learned about relationships on our health is, that good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out, that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective. And the people who are in a relationship that they really feel that they can count on the other person in times of need, those people's memories stay shaper longer. And people in a relationship where they feel they really can't count on the other one, those are the people who would experience earlier memory decline. And those good relationships, they don't have to be smooth all the time. Some of the octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out. But as long as they felt that they can really count on the other one when they are going out tough, those arguments didn't take a toll on their memories. So, this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being; this is the wisdom that's as old as the hills. It's your grandmother's advice, and your pastor's.

第三条我们学到的关于关系对我们健康的影响是,良好的关系不仅只是保护我们的身体,也能保护我们的大脑。研究表明,在80岁之后依然处在对另一个人安全依恋关系中是有保护性的。在关系中真的感到自己能在需要时可以依赖另一个人的人们,他们的保持清晰记忆力的时间更长。而感到自己在关系中真的无法依赖另一个人的人群,他们将更早出现记忆力衰退。而那些良好的关系,并不一定要一直保持平顺。一些 80-89 岁老年夫妇,他们可能一天到晚都在吵架。但只要他们感到自己真的能在困难时刻依赖另一个人时,他们根本就不会记得那些争吵了。所以我们学到的是,良好、亲密的关系有利于我们的健康和完好状态。这是老智慧,是祖母和牧师的忠告。

Why is this so hard to get? For example, with respectful wealth, we know that once your basic material needs are met, wealth doesn't do anything. If you go from making 75,000 dollars a year to 75 million, we know that your health and your happiness will change very little, if at all. When it comes to fame, the constant media intrusion and a lack of privacy make most famous people significantly less healthy. It certainly doesn't keep them happier. And as for working harder and harder, there is that truism that nobody on their death bed ever wished that they had spent more time in their office. (Laughter) Why is that so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we're human. What we really like is a quick fix – something we can get that will keep our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they are complicated and they are hard work of tending to family and friends, that's not sexy or glamorous. It's also life-long. It never ends. The people in our 75-year study with the happiest retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults, really believed that fame and wealth and high achievements were what they needed to go after to have a good life. But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best are people who leaned into relationships, with family, with friends, with community.



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