Over the last 75 years, Harvard University has carried out an ongoing study, the Grant Study, on the happiness and health of adults.
At the start of the study, 724 teenage boys were recruited to see what makes people happy and healthy. Researchers interviewed these young men and entered the homes of where they lived to receive information from their parents as well. The teenage boys were also required to take medical exams to monitor their health status. The study looked into the lives of these young men into their old age in order to get accurate and consistent data.
Of the 724 young men, 60 are still alive today with most of them being in their 90s. During the course of the study, their wives were included as well.
The study has shown that people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than those who are not. The study also revealed that it wasn’t just the number of friends they had or the fact that they were in a committed relationship that was most important. What mattered the most was the quality of the relationships they had with people.
If a happier and healthier life has been linked to having good relationships with people, what can we do about it? Maybe replacing screen time/technology with more people time? Or reaching out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in years. Or giving more quality time to your spouse. Robert Waldinger, the psychiatrist associated with this study sums it all quite nicely: “the good life is built with good relationships.”
Perhaps this is the reason why Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 22:39 (NLT) to “...love your neighbour as yourself.” This statement was so important to Jesus that he also told his disciples to not only love their neighbour as themselves, but to love one another as He loved them (John 13:34 NASB). Even Jesus knew the importance of good relationships and that is why he stressed it to his disciples.
To love someone as much as Jesus loves them can easily prove to be a challenge for anyone. But the good news is that the love of God is shed abroad in the hearts of anyone who believes in Him (Romans 5:5) It is this love that enables us to love our neighbour/friend/spouse/colleague as much as He does.
A good life is built with good relationships. Jesus Christ enables us to love people as He loves them.
If good relationships are lacking in your life, I encourage you to start off by saying this prayer aloud. “Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that you raised Him from the dead. I repent of my sin. Forgive me, wash and cleanse me. I commit myself to Your ways for my life. By inviting you into my life I believe that the love of God is being shed abroad in my heart to love people the way you do. Thank you for helping me to do this. Amen.”