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What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize.
What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? The simple but surprising answer is: relationships. The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives. In fact, the Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that the strength of our connections with others can predict the health of both our bodies and our brains as we go through life.
The invaluable insights in this book emerge from the revealing personal stories of hundreds of participants in the Harvard Study as they were followed year after year for their entire adult lives, and this wisdom is bolstered by research findings from this and many other studies. Relationships in all their forms—friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups—all contribute to a happier, healthier life. And as The Good Life shows us, it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you have, and never too late to build new ones.
Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk about the Harvard Study, “What Makes a Good Life,” has been viewed more than 42 million times and is one of the ten most-watched TED talks ever. The Good Life has been praised by bestselling authors Jay Shetty (“Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz lead us on an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection”), Angela Duckworth (“In a crowded field of life advice and even life advice based on scientific research, Schulz and Waldinger stand apart”), and happiness expert Laurie Santos (“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful”).
With warmth, wisdom, and compelling life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Waldinger is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital, and cofounder of the Lifespan Research Foundation. Dr. Waldinger received his AB from Harvard College and his MD from Harvard Medical School. He is a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and he directs a psychotherapy teaching program for Harvard psychiatry residents. He is also a Zen master (Roshi) and teaches meditation in New England and around the world.
Marc Schulz is the associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and the Sue Kardas PhD 1971 Chair in Psychology at Bryn Mawr College. He also directs the Data Science Program and previously chaired the psychology department and Clinical Developmental Psychology PhD program at Bryn Mawr. Dr. Schulz received his BA from Amherst College and his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a practicing therapist with postdoctoral training in health and clinical psychology at Harvard Medical School.
"Perfect for readers of Arthur Brooks, Daniel Pink, Angela Duckworth, and other writers who delve into how to fashion prosperous, fulfilling lives. An engrossing look at why relationships matter, featuring an unprecedented abundance of data to back it up."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz lead us on an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection. Blending research from an ongoing 80-year study of life satisfaction with emotional storytelling proves that ancient wisdom has been right all along – a good life is built with good relationships.”
— Jay Shetty, bestselling author of Think Like a Monk and host of the podcast On Purpose
“In a crowded field of life advice and even life advice based on scientific research, Schulz and Waldinger stand apart. Capitalizing on the most intensive study of adult development in history, they tell us what makes a good life and why.”
— Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, co-founder and CEO of Character Lab
“Fascinating. . . . Combining intensive research with actionable steps, this penetrating testament to the power of human connection offers gems for almost anyone looking to improve their happiness.”
— Publishers Weekly
"Want the secret to the good life? Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz give it to you in this magnificent new book. Based on the longest survey ever conducted over people’s lives, The Good Life reveals who winds up happy, who doesn’t, and why—and how you can use this information starting today."
— Arthur C. Brooks, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful. Their book will provide welcome advice for a world facing unprecedented levels of unhappiness and loneliness.”
— Laurie Santos, PhD, Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon Professor of Psychology at Yale University and host of the podcast The Happiness Lab podcast
“The Good Life tells the story of a rare and fascinating study of lives over time. This insightful, interesting, and well-informed book reveals the secret of happiness—and reminds us that it was never really a secret, after all.”
— Daniel Gilbert, author of the New York Times best-seller Stumbling on Happiness; and host of the PBS television series This Emotional Life
“Waldinger and Schulz have written an essential — perhaps the essential — book on human flourishing. Backed by extraordinary research and packed with actionable advice, The Good Life will expand your brain and enrich your heart.”
— Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Regret, Drive, and A Whole New Mind
“I'm beyond thrilled that Dr. Waldinger and Dr. Schulz are publishing the findings of the Harvard Study. Over the years, I've discussed their research and recommended Dr. Waldinger's TED talk around the world. I can hardly wait to recommend The Good Life. It's accessible, interesting, and grounded in research—and is bound to make a difference in the lives of millions."
— Tal Ben-Shahar, bestselling author of Being Happy: You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life, and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
"This book is simply extraordinary. It weaves ‘hard data’ and enlightening case studies and interviews together seamlessly in a way that stays true to the science while humanizing it. And what an important lesson it teaches. It helps people to understand how they should live their lives, and also provides a spectacular picture of what psychology can be at its best. It is data driven, of course, but data are just noise without wise interpretation.”
— Barry Schwartz, author of Practical Wisdom (with Kenneth Sharpe) and Why We Work