Many of us have heard the saying “you can’t buy happiness,” but we may have found the key to it. I’m chatting with Doctor Robert Waldinger today and we’re going deep into the science behind having a healthy, good life. Dr. Robert is a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and co-founder of the Lifespan Research Foundation.
He’s also a Zen master who teaches meditation both in the US and around the world and is considered of the foremost experts on the topic. A lot of our conversation centers around the Harvard study I mentioned and what it shows us about the secret to a long, happy life. It’s the longest-running study on one group ever and has been going on since 1938!
We cover several aspects, but one of the biggest takeaways is how nurturing healthy relationships and connections correlates to health and happiness in the long term. Loneliness actually increases the risk of death as much (or more) than smoking. We also talk about how we can do that for ourselves (moms included!), and how we can show our kids how to do it.
I really learned a lot in today’s episode and I know you will too!
Episode Highlights With Dr. Waldinger
- How he became a zen master who teaches meditation around the world
- The science of meditation and the science of why it is beneficial
- What the Harvard study of adult development is- the longest study on the same group of people since 1938
- Key takeaways from this extremely long study
- The surprising key to happiness and why human connection and relationships are so important
- Helpful questions for checking in on your own relationships
- How childhood experiences shape mental health later in life and what children really need to feel safe and secure in life
- What the data says about things that extend lifespan and things that shorten it
- How human connection correlates to a longer lifespan
- Strong relationships are natural stress reducers – the science of how this works
- Why happiness is not something we can “achieve” past our basic human needs
- How to build a safety net of well-being to help increase happiness and calm even in tough times
- Ways to use our feelings as signals but exercise choice in how we act and respond
- How to increase “social fitness” and nurture relationships in your life
- A rule of thumb when it comes to relationships
- Why kids need to see us model prioritizing relationships and taking care of ourselves
- What empathetic accuracy is and how to get better at it
- The W.I.S.E.R method for handling emotionally challenging situations
- The best investment you can make in your own well-being (it might surprise you)
- Health and lifestyle trends that stood out from the data in this study
Resources We Mention
- Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | TED Talk
- The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, MD
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on somebody else’s path.” – Joseph Campbell
More From Wellness Mama
- 298: Getting Back to Happy With Marc and Angel Chernoff
- 337: Science-Backed Strategies for Happiness Even During Stressful Times (With Yale Professor Dr. Laurie Santos of The Happiness Lab)
- 275: Gretchen Rubin on Outer Order, Inner Calm & Happiness
- 448: Mike Bayer on Creating a Strong Mindset in Ourselves and Our Kids
- 544: Amy McCready on 5 Hard Truths About Parenting (& Steps to a Calmer Home Life)
- 236: Caroline Angel on Blue Zones & Increasing Longevity
- 535: Dr. Margaret Paul on How to Learn to Love Yourself, Inner Bonding and Better Parenting
- 519: Yung Pueblo Diego Perez on Meditation, Going Inward, and Clarity & Connection
Join the Conversation...