As I approach a milestone birthday, closer to the end than the beginning, statisically speaking (although I am hoping to be an outlier in this case), I have been wondering more about this last phase.
We all want to be well so we can enjoy our lives and know that a healthy diet and exercise and avoiding drugs and alcohol and sugar are all linked to a longer life.
Yet, in Robert Waldinger’s TED talk on Harvard University’s 75-year study of 724 men, the longest study in the world, he shares how the greatest predictor of a long life was not these factors, or wealth or education, but the men’s connections with others.
The researchers found that happy relationships are good for our health, while loneliness kills.
They found that it wasn’t the number of relationships one had that was important, but the quality of those relationships, and that those living in high conflict relationships were more likely to die earlier (worse than divorce), while those with good, close relationships were protected.
It seems relationships may be our most important investments.
Becoming a mother at twice the age my mother was, this part is of my life is filled with the hands-on care of four sons where previous generations were “free”.
It is tiring and busy. But, perhaps rather than wearing me out, my children and their circles are keeping me connected and may, in fact, be the elixir for a longer life.
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