Are relationships really all that important?

Are relationships really all that important?

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Can we live satisfying and flourishing lives without good relationships?

Do we really need to spend such a massive amount of time, energy and money to create the emotional connections we all seem to crave?

Harvard University began a research project in 1938 with a group of 268 Harvard undergraduates, initially to find out if physical attributes actually affected the kind of leaders would evolve. The study evolved into more complexity and followed the subjects through their lives until they died. It looked at a raft of parameters including mental and physical health, life’s circumstance and the relationships they formed during their lives.

Can you guess what the single most important take away was from all this vast research?

The single most important factor in determining if the subjects led a successful “flourishing” life was determined by the positive warm connected quality of the relationships they had when they were children and young adults. Those with poor relationships were far more likely to gravitate to drug and alcohol abuse.

The top 20% in terms of having had warm connected relationships earned at least $150,000, more per year than the lowest 20%. They had better health, better relationships and a far happier, more productive life.

You may want to read a great summary of this research. Google The Harvard Grant Study or better still buy the book and make it part of your self-development library.

Yes, warm loving relationships are critical to the development of all of us.

Without them we fail to thrive.

So establishing and maintaining good relationships not only improves mental and physical health but establishes the behavioural and motivational basis of leadership and economic return.

Good, warm, nurturing relationships ARE important and this has also been demonstrated a thousand times over in my clinical work with high anxiety and traumatised clients. The lack of connectedness is a serious contributor to poor mental health, high anxiety and depression levels, and the development of more serious mental illness including autism, OCD, bipolar and the schizophrenias.

Gary Johnston

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