What’s the most important aspect of your life? What do you think will make the biggest difference in the long-term and make you the most happy? If you ask most millennials I think most of us would say something like, being rich, having a great career, perhaps being accomplished or famous. But it’s none of these – it turns out that good relationships are the most essential aspect to a long and happy life. Now, this is not just my opinion. There has been significant research in the last century to suggest this. But I think most of us know this instinctively.
Perhaps in one of the longest studies ever completed, the Harvard Study of Adult Development followed the life of 700+ men since the 1930s. In his TED talk, Robert Waldinger, the fourth and current director of the research program, talks about the results. Of the tens of thousands of pages of data collected over 75 years one theme emerges: people with good relationships live longer, happier lives. I encourage you to check out the TED talk on YouTube – What makes a good life by Robert Waldinger.
My concern is that in our very busy, economically driven society, it’s far too easy to sacrifice our connection, quality of relationships, and sense of belonging – and in doing so the core essential for a holistic, happy life.
The best description of sacrifice I have ever heard is giving up something we value for something we value more. We all value money. But when we value that pair of shoes more, we are willing to sacrifice some money. I encourage you to ask yourself how much time and effort you’re putting into your relationships – especially the close ones. Are you investing in something that is good but sacrificing something that is invaluable?
Our decisions in relationships may have a greater impact on our long-term happiness than just about anything else, including our bank balance.
In the Judeo-Christian belief system, we are told that people were created by God to be connected to Him and other people in relationship. Loneliness is the opposite of connection and its not good for us to be alone… Genesis 2:18
Kim Anthony is the Pastor of Life&Legacy Church at Hillcrest