Over the past several months, I’ve been practicing self-reflection, seeking deeper meaning in my everyday experiences, and actively acknowledging what brings me the most happiness and delight. This routine involves going on long walks in the sun, spending time with friends and family, and digging into some of my favorite podcasts, including Hidden Brain, Adam Grant at Work, and HBR IdeaCast.
Recently, I listened to HBR IdeaCast’s podcast, Work Insights from the World’s Longest Happiness Study, featuring Robert Waldinger, the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and author of The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. This study is the longest in-depth longitudinal study on human life, and it’s absolutely fascinating. What resonated with me the most is that some familiarities I have glossed over as standard practices in everyday life are surprisingly beneficial for my physical and mental wellbeing.
According to the study, achieving long-term happiness and longevity is in part dependent on having good relationships, which lead to health and happiness, but only if those relationships are nurtured. The authors encourage us to put our relationships first, prioritizing time spent with those who “fill our cups” and enrich our lives.
The idea that relationships are foundational to our health and happiness isn’t limited to our personal relationships – in fact, our relationships at work are equally important. According to a Gallup Study, having one best friend at work directly contributes to your physiological and psychological wellbeing. These individuals make us want to work harder, reduce our stress by making work fun, and support us when we’re feeling down. They also contribute to building a culture of connection and collaboration without fear of judgment. Having trusting relationships is the foundation of support and admiration in the workplace, which is directly attributed to psychological wellbeing and what makes work fun.
I challenge each of you to spend some time thinking about how you can better nurture meaningful relationships in your life. And I challenge leaders and managers to encourage more of this in the workplace as well, as fulfilling relationships at work will directly impact how teams innovate both internally with coworkers and externally with clients or stakeholders and will ultimately impact business outcomes and productivity.