I was reminded this week of the longest-standing study in health and happiness.
I stumbled across it a couple of years ago when browsing TED Talks, which is one of my favourite ways to waste time. It makes procrastination feel that little bit more noble.
The Harvard study started back in 1938 and is still going to this day. Rather than focus on disease, this study set out to discover what made people healthy.
Then World War 2 happened.
The results coming in were fascinating and they managed to keep the research going. After the war, in the poverty and rationing that followed, the results were equally fascinating.
The researchers weren’t finding what they expected. Over long periods of time, they found that the one factor that most strongly predicts health, happiness and longevity is not diet, exercise or wealth.
It was the quality of one’s relationships.
Having been reminded of this this week, I rewatched the TED Talk below – I highly recommend it.
It got me thinking about my role as an osteopath. I have a particular affinity for learning about human form and function. I love anatomy and physiology, exercise and nutrition.
When I read a new book about a particular way of eating or exercising, it’s easy to get sucked in and to think that this is ‘The Answer’.
The Harvard study, however, pretty much blows that out the water!
But then I realised, our body facilitates our relationships.
A healthy body, free of pain, allows us to go to work and interact with our colleagues, it gets us round the golf course with our buddies or to the gym with our training partner. It gets us down on the floor to play with our children and grandchildren and it walks us to the pub to meet our friends.
This is my role in the clinic. My passion is keeping you pain free, but what you choose to do with that is what really matters.
Focusing on the quality of the interactions with those around you is what will really help you live a healthy, happy and long life.