By Colby Itkowitz
For close to 80 years, Harvard University researchers have studied the lives of the same group of men. Since 1938, they’ve tracked their development, documenting every two years details about their physical and emotional health, their employment, their families and their friendships. By looking at human development over a lifespan, the early researchers hoped to find trends that would provide insight into what factors ultimately led to a good life.
The big takeaway from the decades of research and millions of dollars spent on the famous Grant Study is that, as the Beatles sang, all you need is love. It was not money or status that determined a good life. Those who were happiest and healthier reported strong interpersonal relationships, while those who were isolated had declines in mental and physical health as they aged. In November 2015, Robert Waldinger, the director of the program, shared that key finding in a widely popular Ted Talk that has been viewed close to 14 million times — there’s clearly an appetite for learning what to prioritize to have more fulfilling lives.