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  • Julie Baron, LCSW-C

Are You Happy?

A loaded and complex question. The expansive landscape of research, philosophy, and interventional guidance on how to capture the elusive experience of happiness is overwhelming. What it truly means to be happy is subjective, though generally, it means to feel well physically and emotionally, function with a sense of meaning and ability to provide for one’s needs (and some wants), and feel and express genuine love. So, what is the best way to strive toward and achieve happiness?

Dr. Robert Waldinger, a Harvard researcher, and his colleague and co-author, Marc Schultz, associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, have just written a book summarizing an almost 80 year longitudinal research study on what makes people happy. In their newly released book, The Good Life, they offer insights from the study. Their work all but boils down to one concept…

Relationships are the key to a happy life.

This concept has resonated for me for as long as I can remember. It is a core value and the basis of my 30 career in mental health care. As we embrace a new year, a time when many of us contemplate and reevaluate our priorities, goals and aspirations, I encourage you to explore how you can prioritize the one thing that is key to a happier existence. Ask yourself these questions:

1) How thoughtful am I about how my choices and communications impact my relationships (parenting, professional, personal/intimate)?

2) How much time do I devote to deliberately cultivating, growing, and improving my relationships (close ones, peripheral ones, random encounters with other humans)?

3) What can I do to be more deliberate in the ways I contribute to positive relationships and interactions in my life?

There are a variety of ways to work toward improved relationships. The New York Times Well Newsletter has created a 7 day challenge to get us started on steps we can take to tend to our most prized asset. There are also many other great resources thanks to Google. I hope this message inspires you to spend some time contemplating how you can prioritize and contribute to the relationships in your life, so you and others can be happier.



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