Human beings tend to think that getting rich and being famous is the ultimate guarantee of a good and happy life. In this Ted Talk essay on “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness” by Robert Waldinger, a researcher in one of Harvard’s longest studies on human happiness gives a talk that overrules people’s general belief that it takes wealth and high achievement to have a good life. Waldinger gives a sensational talk with a clear stance that all people can relate to their experiences, allowing them to change their perceptions and make the right decisions to pursue what ideally means having a good and happy life.
The Main Theme of the Video
Foremost, Waldinger makes a stance that a good relationship is what makes people happier and healthier. The Harvard research on human happiness deconstructs the general misconception that wealth, fame, riches, and high achievements would give people a good life. Instead, human happiness depends on social connections and the quality of relationships that people build with others (Waldinger 5:55-6:20). Humans are social beings, and they need to establish healthy connections with people around them, including family members, friends, and even the community. If people do not form relationships and healthy connections, they become lonely, and loneliness is detrimental to human well-being.
Relevance of the Topic
The talk relates to every aspect of human life, giving insight into what people need to focus on, whether school, work, or family. According to a recent study conducted among students graduating from the University of British Columbia, it was found that people who ended up less happy after graduation had prioritized money as compared to graduates who spared their time to enjoy social experiences (Dunn and Courtney par. 4). Therefore, people need to focus on the things that matter, and it means those that would make their life more fulfilling. While people may not disregard the importance of money and hard work, they should find time for family and friends.
Furthermore, the talk is particularly important since it allows humans to change the perceptions of what it takes to be happy. Harvard’s study results are consistent with other research works. For example, a study conducted in Chile and Brazil among the elderly shows that good quality family relationships have a significant positive impact on the happiness of elderly adults (Demir and Sümer 80). In this case, research findings help people to make informed decisions. Therefore, based on insights from past research, including Harvard’s study, people need to be considerate of everything, not forgetting meaningful human connections. Even in busy lives, people should not disregard to shape thier relationships for better as one of the ways to live happier lives.
Applying the Information
People can apply the information from the video today and in the future to make sure that they build quality relationships that give the most happiness. Waldinger suggests that, as humans build relationships, they should be sure that such relationships add value to their lives because conflict-ridden relationships may impact their physical and mental well-being significantly (7:24-7:58). Even as people build relationships, they should keep in mind that it is the quality that matters in relationships and not the number of friends. Good relationships will make people live ideal, happy, and healthy lives.
One surprising thing that people can learn after watching the video is that they can be in a relationship, more so marriages, with constant conflicts, leading to serious health concerns. For example, a study involving 100 couples in North America shows that marital conflicts are associated with most psychological and psychiatric disorders, leading to high levels of anger, sadness, and negativity (Wagner et al. 3). People need to build warm and protective relationships that make them satisfied and healthier. If people feel lonely in a relationship, it means they are not happy, which can be detrimental to their health.
In conclusion, Waldinger’s talk about human happiness influences human perceptions of what it takes to have a good life significantly. Wealth and high achievements do not guarantee happiness. Instead, people need good relationships and meaningful social connections. Even as people work hard to make their fortune, they should not disregard the importance of friends and social experiences. Also, people need to build quality relationships and avoid conflicts if they want to find happiness in their lives.
Demir, Melikşah, and Nebi Sümer. Close Relationships and Happiness Across Cultures. Springer, 2018.
Dunn, Elizabeth, and Chris Courtney. “Does More Money Really Make Us More Happy.” Harvard Business Review, 23 Feb. 2021, hbr.org/2020/09/does-more-money-really-makes-us-more-happy.
Wagner, Adriana, et al. “Conflict, Conflict Resolution and Marital Quality.” Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto), vol. 29, 2019, pp. 1-9, doi:10.1590/1982-4327e2919.
Waldinger, Robert. “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness.” TedTalk, YouTube, 25 Jan. 2016, www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness.