A New Year in a Brave New World … The Quality of Our Relationships Still Matters Most!
Happy New Year everyone and farewell to 2020 … New Year, new attitude right!
All of us at EVOLV Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics hope this start to the year finds you healthy, happy, and safe. The past 12 months have been especially challenging and statistically the most stressful in a generation. Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered illness, lost a loved one, or endured financial hardship from this pandemic that has, in one way or another, touched and will continue to impact all of our lives.
So perhaps considering the start of the New Year and the imposing struggles we face, it would be an opportune time to ask the most essential of all questions: where can we turn to find peace of mind and what actually matters most in living a good life?
An interesting recent published study of millennials (I do not mean to pick on that age group as I have a few of my own!) asked them what their most important life goals were. Their response? Over 80% replied that financial success and making money was most important while over 50% said that becoming ‘famous’ was a priority. Most of us at all ages tend to be focused on working harder and committing more of our time to career achievement to find or ensure a good life. But what do we really know about human life and finding contentment and happiness?
As it turns out, the most comprehensive and respected research on this critically important question is the Harvard Study of Adult Development and is the longest study of adult life in the United States. The research study began in 1938 with over 700 participants and is still being followed and ongoing data collected. Remarkably over 60 of the original participants starting in 1938 are still monitored and being studied through questionnaires, interviews with the family members, and comprehensive medical testing and scans. So, what have we learned from over 80 years of scientific and social analysis about living a happy life?
The most essential lesson from all this research is that a truly happy life is not about wealth or fame or working harder.
The clearest message from the Harvard Study data over 80 years is that the quality of our relationships is the most important and consistent factor in achieving a happy and healthy life!
The Harvard Study data provides 3 major lessons regarding the quality of our relationships which are especially relevant in this COVID-19 world where we all now find ourselves:
1) We are social creatures, and the quality of our connections with each other are not optional but critically important not only to our emotional health but also our physical health as well. Loneliness and isolation from others not only are bad for our health but can be deadly. In the Harvard Study, they consistently found that loneliness can be toxic and result in deteriorating health, diminished brain function and increased dementia, and essentially shorter life spans. Approximately 1 in every 5 Americans reports feeling lonely … now we better understand why that really matters.
2) It is not the number of friends that you have or whether or not you are married or in a relationship that matters, it is the quality of your relationships that is the most important factor. Not surprisingly, Harvard research reveals that living with chronic stress or conflict is bad for our overall physical and mental health and can be worse than being alone or divorced. On the other hand, they found that loving relationships can actually be protective of our health and that the level of satisfaction or quality of a relationship was more important than many universal testing measures such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels!
3) Good relationships can protect our brains as well as our bodies. It is essentially important to relationship quality that one can count on their partner or friends in troubled times as well as in good times. In the study data, they consistently found that good relationships were a factor in reduced dementia and better functioning memories at any age.
I feel that the findings of the Harvard Study of Development are particularly relevant now more than ever as we confront the COVID pandemic and start a New Year. Building and maintaining high-quality relationships is certainly not easy and can be complicated and require commitment, work, and forgiveness. But certainly, the one essential lesson from the longest most respected and comprehensive study ever done on this subject is worth everyone’s attention: fame, wealth, and achievement are not the secret to a good life … it is the quality of our relationships that matters most of all. That is also why I believe that the most important and meaningful fundamental at our practice EVOLV is the quality and longevity of our relationships with our patients, our families, and each other. Relationships built on trust, transparency, and compassion are the essence of what we do and why we do it.
At the beginning of this New Year, I also want to acknowledge and compliment all of our incredible professional staff at EVOLV who have worked so hard and have been so committed to building and maintaining a safe and secure environment for our patients and their care. We have enjoyed the most successful year in our history and to have accomplished so much under such challenging conditions is a tribute not only to the EVOLV staff and their level of excellence but also to our patients for their trust and belief in us and what we are all about.
We want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year and sincerely thank you all for your ongoing support. We look forward to providing you with the best in comprehensive and holistic aesthetic care, and we especially value and thank you for being a part of this special and long term relationship that makes all of our lives happier, healthier, and more meaningful!