What makes people happy? We have been searching for answers to this age-old question for millennia. In his talk at TEDxBeaconStreet from November 2015, Dr. Robert Waldinger details the findings of a 75-year Harvard study tracking the lives of two disparate groups of men and their levels of happiness. The study, which evolved to include more than 2,000 people during its run, found that the most substantial factor determining someone’s happiness is relationships with other people. Having happy, healthy relationships leads to a happy, healthy life — and while this may seem too romantic to be true (Could your soul mate actually exist?), decades worth of data supports the notion that people are fundamentally social animals and having friends does matter. Intrigued? See what else Dr. Waldinger had to say in this TED Talk.
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler (Riverhead Books, 1998)
If you’re looking for a companion for Dr. Waldinger’s talk, look no further than this handbook for living written by the Dalai Lama. In addition to his research, Dr. Waldinger is also a Zen priest, so some of the insights from his talk can be found in the Dalai Lama’s text.