A Georgian peasant woman lived to the age of 132 years and 91 days. When she was 130 years old, a reporter asked her the secret of her longevity. She replied: “A harmonious family.”
Two American psychology professors did a 20-year study and found that human relationships are the decisive factor determining life span. They said good relationships are more important than diet, exercise, and medical examinations.
Due to poor relationships, one’s heart may be filled with anger, resentment, and hostility, which lead the sympathetic nerves to an agitated condition, and excessive adrenaline.
While only you can know whether any particular relationship is worth the effort for you, there are many benefits that make forging close relationships worth it. Below are 8 reasons to find, nurture, and endure the ups and downs of relationships:
Social support in life
It’s helpful to have people in your life who can offer their expertise to help you out. This might mean being a good listener, a wise life advisor, being handy with fix-it stuff around the house, or being an expert negotiator. All of these types of support improve your quality of life.
Help in becoming the person you want to be
A university study found that a loving partner who sees you more like the person you want to be will support you in a way that helps you become that person. Because your partner’s response to you can help shape the person you become, they named this the Michelangelo phenomenon. We know that parents have a similar effect on their young children. And, it seems reasonable that other emotionally intimate relationships can also have the same kind of effect.
A ready opportunity to be caring toward others
You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that being altruistic can make you feel happy and view yourself in a positive light — though such studies certainly do exist to support this claim. Studies also show that altruism creates a sense of calm and reduces stress.
Fun and fulfillment
Doing things you enjoy is a wonderful way to spend your time — and having friends to share these experiences with can make them all the more fun and meaningful.
A sense of being part of something bigger than yourself
People have an inborn need to feel a sense of belonging. And, when people meet this need, they gain a sense of well-being. As part of a network of friends or a more formalized group, you can meet this need.
Social relationships relieve stress through the many ways in which they are a support and help people to feel good. Although feeling less stressed is positive in itself, reducing stress is also important because stress can cause problems with coronary arteries, insulin regulation, and the immune system.
Not only do people’s relationships have a directly positive effect upon people’s health (such as with stress reduction), they also influence people’s health behaviors. For instance, spouses and other loved ones often actively encourage exercising, eating a healthy diet, and following up with medical issues. So, not surprisingly, people with emotional support tend to recover better and be less susceptible to illness or disease than those who are more alone.
People who have strong social ties are much more likely to live longer than those who are more isolated. An investigation of 268 men by Harvard University School of Medicine noted, “A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”