In his November 2015 TED Talk, psychiatrist Robert Waldinger delivers insight gathered from the longest study on happiness.
He also, although perhaps without realizing it, gives yet another insanely important reason why you need to get the hell out of and stay the hell away from toxic relationships.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development has, since 1938, tracked the lives of two groups of men.
The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College. They all finished college during World War II, and then most went off to serve in the war.
The second group that were followed was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, boys who were chosen for the study specifically because they were from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in the Boston of the 1930s. Most lived in tenements, many without hot and cold running water.
Every two years, researchers interview them in their living rooms. They get their medical records from their doctors, draw their blood, scan their brains, talk to their children, and videotape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns.
The clearest message that they’ve received from the 75-year study is this:
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
They learned three crucial lessons from the study, and the most glaring one, for me, is this:
It’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced.
It’s not about money. It’s not about the house or the car. It’s not about the possessions accrued.
It’s about the quality of the relationships we have.
When we are stuck in a toxic relationship and a toxic relationship pattern, we suffer. Our bodies and minds suffer. Our lives are not only cut short time-wise, but the time we are alive is not nearly as enjoyable as it could be and should be.
You deserve to life a confident, successful, fulfilling life.
You deserve to enjoy each day.
You deserve to feel worthy (because you are).
If you are considering leaving, or even just questioning whether the relationship is toxic for you, do this:
Ask yourself – if money, time, and current obligations and relationships were not an issue, what would you do each day? What does your ideal life look like? What does it FEEL like?
Let yourself go with this. Really think it through. Feel it through.
Does your current life feel and look anything like your ideal life?
Which parts don’t match up?
You have the power to change that.
The first step is breaking free from that toxic relationship. A marriage, a friendship, a family relationship. Get. Out.
Your very life depends on it.
With love and light,
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