COFOUNDER, CXO AT TWINE
2020 marks the 82nd year that researchers at Harvard University began following 724 college age men as part of the longest running study in history on human development. Their objective? To determine what factors lead to healthy and happy lives. Key results suggest that happiness and health do not result from fame and fortune. Instead, as the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development Robert Waldinger put it, the clearest message to emerge is, “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Based on converging findings from this study along with several others reporting related results, we designed 36 questions to spark conversations to help you deepen your present relationships and build meaningful new ones — which in turn may help you live a happier, healthier, and longer life!
This article is the brainchild of Kalina Silverman, founder of BIG TALK & Diana Rau, cofounder of twine. Together, we’re hosting LIVE, short video convos between amazing humans from around the world on the 36 Questions below, to help us ALL live longer.
Build Strong Relationships
“Close relationships…are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.” – Harvard study on adult development. Our first set of questions is dedicated to sparking conversations that may help you strengthen your relationships.
1. How many close friends do you have that you could turn to in a crisis?
2. Is there anyone you would like to have a closer relationship with? How might you create a closer relationship with them?
3. If your relationships were flowers in a garden, which ones are blooming from care? Which ones are withering away from lack of attention?
4. Are you afraid of letting others get close to you? Why?
5. Who in your life do you trust the most and what did it take to build that trust?
6. What places or communities do you turn to for peace and comfort?
7. What do you do to create a strong community that you can call your own?
8. Are there any relationships that matter to you that you’re unhappy in?
9. If you could choose one person you could strengthen or improve your relationship with, who would that be? What’s a small action you can take today to do that?
Live Your Purpose
Research from University College London found that people with a greater sense of purpose in life lived longer than those with the lowest sense of purpose.
10. What is your purpose in life? What are you meant to do in this world?
11. What do you do daily that strongly aligns with your sense of purpose? What doesn’t align?
12. What have been your greatest failures? What have they been preparing you for?
13. What, to you, is a life worth living? Reflecting on the last week, what comes to mind as moments where you felt strongly you were living your best life? What are moments when you felt you were wasting life?
Help and Support Others
A study conducted with the elderly showed those who helped others lived longer lives.
14. How are you helping others? How can you do more to help others?
15. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
16. When was the last time you served someone at great cost to yourself without keeping track of the cost?
17. In what ways are you using your gifts to help others? In what ways are you not?
18. What causes are you most passionate about?
19. How have your difficulties equipped you to serve others?
Researchers from Norway found that women who rated high for humor had a 48 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
20. Who is the funniest person you know? What makes them funny?
21. What made you laugh or smile today?
Stay Young At Heart
Research from University College London showed people who felt younger had a lower death rate than those who felt their own age or older.
22. What activities make you feel younger?
23. What was an activity that brought you incredible joy as a child that you don’t do anymore?
24. What have you learned recently from someone from a younger generation than you?
25. Do you seek to cultivate friendships with people of all different age groups? What do you find most rewarding from your friendships with people younger than you?
26. How are you getting better every day?
A Harvard study found the most optimistic people had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer, a 38 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and respiratory disease, and a 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke
27. What are you excited about? What gives you hope? What are you optimistic about?
28. Can you share a personal experience that has given you hope in humanity?
29. Think of some negative things that happened to you recently. What were the silver linings?
Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder
Research from UC Berkeley shows that experiencing awe can actually impact health by reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
30. What gives you a sense of awe?
31. What’s one thing you experienced recently that made you feel a sense of wonder or awe?
Studies from University of Pennsylvania and many others have shown that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.
32. What are you most grateful about in your life right now?
33. Who are 3 people you’re grateful for? Why?
34. How do you practice gratitude in your everyday life?
35. What about today has been better than yesterday?
36. What choices have you made in the last five years that you’d thank yourself for making?