The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness

S. & S. Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781982166694. $28.99. SELF-HELP
Waldinger and Schulz are the current directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which began in 1938 and is still active today. This appealing book distills the key to happiness into one simple thought: “Good relationships keep us healthier and happier.” The study follows the original participants and their descendants throughout their lives with questions relating to their health, habits, behaviors, emotions, and beliefs in an effort to discover what makes people thrive. Using anecdotes from the study, the authors show the importance of strong, stable relationships to living a satisfying life. Different types of relationships are explored, ranging from family members to casual encounters with baristas, and the authors provide advice on building and repairing many different types of connections. They note the inherent biases present in the initial study and use findings from more inclusive studies to bolster their findings.
VERDICT This is an approachable overview of this notable study that can be understood and appreciated by many. Waldinger’s TED talk about this subject is in the top 10 of most-viewed talks, so expect interest.
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