The relationships that make life work better

Sep 10, 2019 | AdvisorPro

We’ve been looking at some very interesting research about what contributes to our feelings of well-being in later life.

You might expect that, at age 50, the best predictor of how healthy and happy we’ll be in our 80s depends on a cholesterol level. Or how healthy our bank balance is. But, according to a long-running Harvard research study, that’s not the case.

In fact, it’s all about the quality of our relationships.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development has spent nearly 80 years tracking hundreds of people’s lives. Today, 60 of the original participants are still alive, now in their 90s. Through the years, the study has been extended to include their children too. And the findings are fascinating.

Social connections, in later years, are the number one contributor to our well-being. Most importantly, it’s the quality – not the quantity – of our relationships that make the difference. And they support us in other ways too because these good relationships have a positive effect on both our bodies and our brains.

It’s something we keep in mind when meeting with our clients, many of whom take on exhausting professional schedules with extensive travel and long hours. Of course, they enjoy what they’re doing and appreciate the financial benefits it brings. One of those benefits is the freedom that financial success gives us to choose what we prioritise in life. Often it’s a time of transition– such as a new career or a decision to work less – that gives us the opportunity to focus on what’s really important. And, as the study suggests, take time to work at our life-enhancing relationships.