In a previous blog post entitled “2 a.m. Friends,” I shared a concept that attendees of our retirement life-planning workshops have found compelling. Each of us should have a substantial number of the 2 a.m. friends, those people in our life who we would be comfortable calling in the middle of the night if we needed help, and who we know would respond—no questions asked.
I further pointed out, “These are not your hundreds of Facebook friends. And they are not your many ‘work friends.’ Frequently, when we retire, we learn that work friends were really only colleagues or work acquaintances, at best.”
I recently viewed a TED Talk by Robert Waldinger that has been viewed by over 4.5 million people. Waldinger is the fourth director of a 75-year-old study that has tracked happiness, life satisfaction, and many other factors of over 700 Harvard graduates and an equal number of boys from the worst, most disadvantaged neighborhoods of Boston, throughout their lives.
I’ll cut to the chase—the most predictive element in the lives of the participants when they were in their 50s regarding their projected level of health and happiness in their 80s and beyond was the quality of their personal relationships. Waldinger suggests actions that should make a lot of difference to each of us: lean into relationship, replace workmates with playmates, and replace screen time with people time.
He ends his talk with a quote from Mark Twain, who had been looking back on his own life and who in essence, summarized what Waldinger’s study has learned, “There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickering, apologies, heart-burnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving. The good life is built with good relationships.”