Relationships matter more to our happiness and well-being than money, education, genetics, and position in society. I have learned this from studies of well-being and happiness in small communities in Alberta including Leduc and Olds. Strong relationships translate into higher levels of trust and ultimately more resilient neighbouhoods and economies.

I believe a good life is a fine balance of happiness and sadness, with less time wasted on anger and worry and more time in loving relationships and hope.

Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest affirms what many of us have known intuitively: that strong relationships contribute to a happy and good life. As director of the longest study on adult life and happiness, Waldinger’s insightful TED Talk profiles what he has learned about what the good life actually looks like. A remarkable 75-year-longitudinal study of a group of more than 740 men has found that strong relationships is the single most important contribution to living a long life.

Relationships aren’t always easy; they can be messy. But the alternative — being lonely — detracts from our happiness. According to Waldinger, 1 in 5 Americans feel lonely.

Waldinger ends with a wonderful quote from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who said:

“There isn’t time — so brief is life — for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving — and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

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