We dedicate the month of January to the broad topic of financial planning and I have the pleasure of writing the 2023 inaugural Thought of the Week. Last week, as I was mulling over what to write about, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal (here) that reminded me of the now 85-year running Harvard Study of Adult Development (here). The goal of the multigenerational study has been to find the highest predictors of health, longevity, and happiness in later life.
It turns out that the biggest predictor of health, happiness, and longevity hasn’t been health markers (like cholesterol or resting heart rate) or financial security, but rather it is the quality of friendships that matter most. As the research team went back and reviewed all of the various data points collected in their study, it turned out that those who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50, were the healthiest in their 80’s.
Notably, it wasn’t the quantity of friends and/or family that mattered most, but rather the quality of those relationships. As we all intuitively understand, strong and healthy relationships take work – they don’t just magically happen. It means picking up the phone, writing a note or a text of appreciation. This might come in tandem with reducing screen time to make more personal time, or getting out of a stale habit to try something different. Those small investments of time and effort can end up paying massive dividends in the future. A good life is built with good relationships.
I don’t like the pressure associated with new year resolutions, so I will instead recommend a can’t-lose investment opportunity for your future. Over this next month, reach out to four people (an old friend, a distant relative, a former colleague) to tell them you are thinking of them and that you would enjoy catching up over lunch, coffee or even Zoom.