The three Rs of healthy aging …

Photo credit: Helena Lopes via

Photo credit: Helena Lopes via

Nobody seems to want to get old … yet it is inevitable. Time slips by …  like sand through the hourglass. Human life expectancy is increasing, so we better get used to getting older for longer and to maintaining our health. A Harvard study gives some useful insights.

The three Rs

… the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships
~ Robert Vaillant

The key finding of the study was that good relationshisp make people happier and healthier. Three principles at the foundation of this are:

  1. Social relationships are good for us and loneliness can be toxic.
  2. It’s not the quantity but the quality of relationships that count.
  3. Good relationships protect our bodies and our brains.

To hear more detail about these findings, watch the TED Talk by Robert Waldinger here (12-13 minutes).

Waldinger suggests, ” Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too.”

Is this significantly new?
Probably not. When you think about the findings above, they seem logical and we can probably find experiences or observations of our own that reinforce these. Do we live our lives this way though, and are there other factors that can interfere in our achievement of good relations with others? Furthermore, do we make an effort to reach out to others who may be in need in these areas?

How to put this into action
Waldinger makes some suggestions:

  • Replace screen time with people time – yes turn off the device or put it in another room and focus on the people you are with
  • Liven up a stale relationship with a significant other, a family member or a friend you are out of touch with … do something different to reconnect, take a walk and talk, have a date or catch-up on old times
  • If retiring, actively replace work relationships with other new relationships linked by hobbies/interests

He says …

“It’s easy to get isolated, to get caught up in work and not remembering, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen these friends in a long time.’ “

The bottom line: pay attention to relationships.


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