two senior women friends hiking outdoors

The key ingredient of happiness

What’s the key ingredient of a life full of happiness? If you’re like many people, your answer may include money, a nice home, vacations, leisure time and a fulfilling career. And while these things may help contribute to your happiness, they aren’t the key ingredient.

According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the world’s longest scientific study on happiness, the healthiest and happiest people in the world have good relationships. This study began in 1938 and has followed three generations of people—more than 1,300 participants—from their teen years through old age.1

What are the benefits of good relationships?

Loved ones and friends are good for your health. According to the Mayo Clinic,2 “Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).” In addition, having friends can:

  • Give you a sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Boost your happiness.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth.
  • Help you cope with traumas.
  • Encourage you to avoid or change unhealthy lifestyle habits.

7 ways to nurture relationships

So, if you want to improve your health and happiness, one area you should focus is nurturing your relationships. Whether it’s your partner, friends or coworkers, these tips will help you maintain healthy relationships with people in your life.

  1. Be kind: This may seem basic, but it’s the core of successful relationships. Acts of kindness and gratitude will help you develop relationships, while negativity or criticism will tear them down.
  2. Communicate and listen: Speak honestly and give others space to do the same. Open up about yourself and share your personal experiences and concerns; sharing is a form of intimacy that develops relationships. Ask what’s going on in your friends’ lives and let them know you’re paying attention by being an active listener.
  3. Be intentional: Make yourself available to seeing and checking in with friends and loved ones. Carve out time to spend with those who matter most to you. Make good use of your time and find activities that you enjoy together. Silencing your phone and eliminating distractions will help you be intentional during time spent with friends, coworkers and loved ones.
  4. Be trustworthy: Show your loved ones and friends that you can be trusted by being responsible, reliable and dependable. Follow through on commitments, keep your engagements and be punctual. If someone shares private information with you, keep it confidential.
  5. Provide emotional support: When your friends and loved ones know you have their back, trust and connection will grow in your relationships. When someone shares a difficult experience with you, be empathetic, but don’t offer advice unless you’re asked for it.
  6. Forgive: Every relationship hits speedbumps now and then. Through ups and downs, get in the habit of talking through problems and letting go of grudges. Avoid bringing up past mistakes and resolved issues.
  7. Show appreciation: Don’t take your friends and loved ones for granted. Make them feel appreciated and valued by saying “thank you,” giving compliments and helping them with acts of service.

Bankers Life is here for you!

Bankers Life is here to help you build a retirement plan that provides security and peace of mind—so you can take in all the joys of spending time with the people who matter most. To have a local agent contact you about your retirement needs, complete this form.


1Today, The biggest lesson from the world’s longest scientific study of happiness, January 2023.
2Mayo Clinic, Friendships Enrich your life and improve your health,, January 2022.