Social Connection

Social Connection

Probably the single most important thing we can do to support our Fire is connect with each other.

Study 1: Mitchell, J.F., (2004) Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development

(Mitchell, 2004)

  • Began in 1938 by following a cohort of Harvard graduates throughout their lives, tracking health, wealth and happiness outcomes amongst other things
  • Was quickly extended to include the other end of the economic spectrum
  • Eventually even included women…


They were surprised to discover that the single biggest indicator for longevity was not, diet, lifestyle, genetics, or socioeconomic status, but the quality of our relationships.

“It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community are happier, they’re physically healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Robert Waldinger, current director of the study.

It is not just the number of friends you have or whether or not you have a partner; it is also the quality of your relationships that counts.

How satisfied you are with your close relationships at 50, is a better indicator of your health in your 80s than cholesterol levels.

“Close relationships, the data indicates, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. The study found strong relationships to be far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction, and better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, wealth, fame, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants. And strong relationships are not only correlated with happiness, but with physical health, longevity, and financial success, too.”(Louis et al., 2021)

According to George Vaillant, the third director of the study, “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

For more information on the study see this TED Talk:

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness – Robert Waldinger

So what can we do to improve the situation? Obviously, we can make more time for our important relationships. Value our friends and our family and to build community we can volunteer, join or start local groups. We can also smile at strangers. This might seem like a small step but mirror neurons in our brain, mean that it is very difficult for others not to respond with a smile back. (Bastiaansen et al., 2009) Good moods are contagious and have been shown to have extensive impacts on our family and friends, so don’t keep them to yourself (Hamilton, 2010). If you’re feeling particularly brave you could talk to strangers too.


Louis, M.M.W. at S.S.M.M. is a staff writer for S.S. who lives in S., intelligence, M.W. he isn’t writing about emotional, Food, H.I.P.E.S.G. and Banjo,  hanging out with his puppy, (2021) Want a Good Life? 3 Lessons from Harvard Grant Study. [online] Six Seconds. Available at: [Accessed 8 Aug. 2022].

Mitchell, J.F., (2004) Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1611, pp.178–179.