Autumn 2022

The Good Life

An interview with Robert Waldinger

Sleep Issue

  • The Written Word

The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, PhD 

What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? In The Good Life, a new book by Robert Waldinger, MD 78, an HMS professor of psychiatry, part-time, at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Marc Schulz, a professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College, the authors argue that the simple but surprising answer is relationships.

These leaders of the Harvard Study of Adult Development — Waldinger is director of the study and Schulz is its associate director — reveal that the strength of a person's connections with others can predict the health of both their body and their brain as they go through life. The insights in the book emerge from the personal stories of hundreds of participants in the eighty-year Harvard study, bolstered by research findings from this and many other studies.

In this inaugural episode of The Written Word, Harvard Medicine magazine spoke with Waldinger about the genesis and evolution of the project, the beneficial influences relationships have on our health and well-being, and the importance of building new and cultivating existing relationships no matter ones age.

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Bonus clip

The Harvard Study of Adult Development began in 1939 with the goal of identifying psychosocial variables and biological processes in early life that predict health and well-being in late life, aspects of childhood and adult experience that predict the quality of intimate relationships in late life, and how late life marriage is linked with health and well-being. Here, Waldinger describes the origin of the multifaceted project and the evolving makeup of the groups it follows.

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Author reading

Listen to an excerpt from The Good Life read by Waldinger:

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Edited excerpt from The Good Life by Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, PhD, published by Simon and Schuster. Copyright © 2023 by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. Reprinted courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.