How to Live a Healthy, Happy and Long Life
It’s All About Relationships!
A Good Life is built with Good Relationships
Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. We live longer if we have good social connections and our brain health is better. Our minds are sharper and we prolong memory decline when we have people we can count on. Our friends and loved ones give us so many benefits besides being wonderful people with whom to share our lives.
The advantages of having close friendships, family, and spousal relationships that are positive add satisfaction and the benefits of good health. Having a conflict-ridden relationship is worse than divorce on our physical and emotional health. The Harvard Study of Adult Development spanning over 75 years has given us a lot of material on lessons learned about health, happiness, and the good life.
Younger people tend to predict that fortune and fame will lead to happiness. That prediction doesn’t hold up. Studying older people who have lived more life shows there is one key indicator for happier and healthier lives. According to the study’s research, this is your ticket to a good life:
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
It’s all about relationships.
Not only will you have a happier life if it’s built around positive relationships, you’ll live a healthier and longer life as well:
“The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
We get a lot of recommendations or prescriptions in life like, “Don’t smoke.” “Drink one or two drinks only.” “Exercise regularly.” “Walk daily.” “Eat vegetables.” For creating a healthy and long life, we now get to add,” Have close friendships of people you count on and see them regularly.” “Have close family members or clean it up the relationships.” “Have a spouse or significant other and keep the relationship positive or keep the bickering well managed.”
How to Have Good Friendships
How do you do these things? Start by keeping friendships you have and starting new ones. Put energy into them; involve yourself in activities and events where you share with friends. Do good deeds for them and have pleasurable times together. Repair any ruptures that may occur. Be honest and open in your communications with them. Be kind and thoughtful, remember birthdays and anniversaries. I encourage you to look at your friendships and see where you might improve the attachments you have.
Good Family Relationships? How?
Family may be difficult but they are very important. Make sure your relationships are as healthy and accepting as you can. Set good boundaries and be respectful of yourself as well as the others. Do what works for you, but be kind, considerate, thoughtful, and caring toward family members. If you don’t have positive relationships with them, work hard to clean up the hurts and disappointments. Create a limited relationship that is successful and joyful. Make it work and function with positivity. Accept the differences and don’t try to change anyone but yourself.
How to Make your Marriage Positive and Conflict Managed?
By having a secure attachment with a spouse or partner, you will have a longer and happier, more fulfilling life. It is necessary to keep the relationship free of as much negativity as you can. It is wise to learn to listen and understand your spouse. Know that you are two different people from two different backgrounds, with different interests, values, and experiences. The beliefs and behaviors you share in life can be overpowering if you don’t have an understanding and accepting attitude.
To maintain an attitude of kindness and acceptance, you will have to demonstrate discipline to speak with kindness, listen with attentiveness, be respectful and be open. It means talking instead of shutting down and withdrawing. It means asking for what you want instead of being critical. It means not being defensive but taking ownership of your errors and weaknesses. It also means never being contemptuous, but instead being kind, compassionate and caring.
Managing your upset or anger in a way that takes ownership is important. Anger and irritation are normal feelings and they require thoughtfulness for you to investigate why you choose anger and blame, and selecting a different response where you learn what you can do differently to reduce or change your feelings. Look at alternative behaviors you could have. Then take different actions and choose different, more positive thoughts about the other person.
How to Keep the Connections Strong?
An important way to keep your relationship out of conflict or to manage the conflict easily is to bank a lot of positive experiences and expressions of love. Always reconnect emotionally with your partner. You do this through smiling, holding hands, thanking them, giving meaningful compliments, kissing, being affectionate, making love, having fun together, enjoying experiences, being best friends. Build a huge savings account by giving attention and expressing affection to each other. The larger your savings of positive and loving behaviors, the easier it is to manage the conflicts you have. We know from John Gottman’s research that 69% of couple’s problems are not solvable. So you have a lot of work to do to manage your differences. We all do!
Sharing little rituals like making coffee for your spouse, preparing a good breakfast, opening the car door, kissing hello and goodbye, as well as more important rituals including how you spend holidays and how you celebrate successes are all a part of developing a successful and loving relationship.
It is important to share your goals with each other and have shared goals for your family and for you as a couple. Dreaming together and turning those dreams into visions and concrete goals are important for you; they provide the long term glue to your happiness and health. Sharing meaning in life offers you untold benefits of happiness and wellbeing.
We know from the long term research that securely attached relationships bring longevity and happiness. Success, fame, wealth does not contribute; instead, the key to health, happiness, longevity, and wellbeing is family and community.