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Relationships are the #1 Way To Have a Happier, Longer Life, by TIME

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Here’s how to live a happy, healthy, long life:

  • Relationships = health: Three times as powerful as exercise.
  • Online relationships don’t count: Don’t substitute Facebook for face-to-face. Use tech to arrange relationships, not replace them.
  • Be part of a community: Be a Sardinian and be engaged with groups of like-minded people who care.
  • Work relationships matter: Take breaks with your friends and give’em a hug.

In her book, Susan Pinker tells the story of her friend John McColgan who needed a kidney transplant. And he needed it fast.

With no family members who could offer him a kidney, he was added to the list of people waiting for a donor. And he was number 86,219 on that list… Not good. And the average person’s chance of getting a non-family member to agree to donate a kidney is 3 in 1000.

But John had spent his life developing and nurturing strong friendships. So when he asked if anyone would donate a kidney,four people agreed.

Those are lottery winner statistics. But it wasn’t chance. Spending time building relationships had been a choice. And it literally saved his life.

From The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier:

The probability that a person not biologically related to you will offer you a kidney is very small— about three in a thousand. The chances of two people doing so are infinitesimal. Then there is John, who received four serious offers. By virtue of his strong relationships, groomed over decades, John beat the odds— and the disease that had killed his father.

Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” Sorry, Jean-Paul. You were wrong. John Donne was a lot closer when he wrote, “No man is an island.”

The Grant Study followed a group of men from college until the end of life. The results offer deep insight into what makes a good – or bad – life.

They realized there was a single yes/no question that could predict whether someone would be alive and happy at age 80:

“Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to?”

The research concluded that “the capacity to love and be loved was the single strength most clearly associated with subjective well-being at age eighty.”

The lead researcher was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?”

He replied, “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

Now stop staring at this screen and go hug a friend.

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