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Here is what an 85-Year-long Harvard Study Says is the Key To Living Longer

Guess what it is?

Recently, CNBC shared an 85 year-long Harvard study that revealed the key element to living happy, healthy, long lives. No doubt the answer is something important to all of us but probably not surprising to any of us.  

“Positive relationships” seem to be the tonic.  

What’s frightening is that the entire nation seems to be struggling with an all-time low in this regard.  From young to old, the United States is lonely.  And we are not the only nation struggling. Loneliness is a global epidemic that began well before Covid, although Covid didn’t do us any favors nor the ramifications that continue to perpetuate our loneliness.

Similarly, technology is another culprit. With all of this technology at our feet, people feel more distant than ever before. You’d think this would be different, but it isn’t. Toss into the pot older generations adopting technology more to cope with isolation due to physical impediments and younger generations lacking the skills to strike up a simple conversation without succumbing to enormous anxiety because they never have had to ‘beyond the screen’ and you have yourself quite a stew.  None of this bodes well for happy, healthy, long lives and futures, individually or collectively, mind you.

The truth is virtual reality isn’t reality and we all know it. But what do we do to add positive relationships to our lives?  Here are ten suggestions plus one bonus:

  1. We move outside our comfort zones – No one likes to feel uncomfortable, but meeting others means doing so. So shake it off, research popular locations and show up;
  2. We shut our mouths – Stop feeling like you need to cure perceived insanity. Accept the good, look past the bad, and make new friends sans judgment;
  3. Friendships aren’t convenient – If you are looking for easy, get a fish not a friend;
  4. Get off your technology – Making your phone your best pal is one way to go. Or you can actually make a friend out of a human being:
  5. You aren’t that great either – Accept the flaws of others and see the good in them. You aren’t the only one in the equation doing so, I promise;
  6. Not all friends need to be best friends – But sometimes people can surprise you given a bit of time. Stay open and don’t lock yourself into one particular category of friendship;
  7. Measure if you would be friends with you – You might be amazed by your answer if you were really honest with yourself;
  8. Give up the bad habits – Sometimes our crutches are the crux of our isolation and issue; Recognize if this is you and if it is, work on yourself;
  9. Evolve to feel better – Plenty of us are stuck in the environment we’ve created for ourselves. Move beyond it by forcing yourself to grow in ways you’ve continued to put on the back-burner. Being better leads to feeling better;
  10. Stop listening to the opinions of others – Unless they are going to babysit you when you are feeling lonely, these opinionated voices really don’t matter. Stop resting your self-fulfillment on them;
  11. And finally, strive to become your own personal best friend first – Only then will you be prepared to invite someone worthwhile into your life.

When I created the ZNEEX app, no one needed to hand me a study to make me realize just how much people were aching for positive relationships. Obesity, depression, intolerance were just some of my clues. I saw it in the airports, in the grocery stores, in the restaurants, etc.  Everywhere I went, I couldn’t help but notice it. Ultimately, I just had to look around to see the results of the disconnect our nation was enduring and it both concerned me as well as made me feel quite sad. 

A do-er by nature, innovating gave me the ability to lend a hand in turning the tide on this, helping people to connect, walk, and talk in the way 2023 demanded and people needed. I see rebuilding social circles, individually and optimally, as the key to constructing the necessary bridges for the happiest, healthiest, longest life our nation can have collectively. Doing this alone is not the answer, though. It is something we all need to strive to enact and support. We owe it to each other because where one goes, we all go! We need to get back remembering this fact.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day tomorrow, take it from a woman who knows loneliness as well as how good it can feel to get out of her own way and make the change. “Today isn’t too soon to do it. But it can certainly be too late if you don’t…for you and everyone.”

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Laura Wellington

Laura J. Wellington is the founder of ZNEEX friendship-walking app. She is an award-winning children's brand creator, author, blogger, and political commentary writer.

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