I was graciously encouraged by a friend to read a Harvard longitudinal study on happiness. Harvard scientists tracked 238 men from the year 1938 to present day. That’s 80 years of research on what it means to be happy.

After reading the results of their study thus far I felt amazed, then I felt reassured, then I felt like I was smarter for having read a Harvard paper, and then ultimately I felt reaffirmed in our journey.

First of all, the men in 1938 all had similar goals as almost everyone else in society; to be rich and famous. But after 80 years of studying these men, their families, wives, children, grandchildren, and more, Harvard scientists came to a conclusion. The director of the study, Robert Waldinger, said “the surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

These men had original goals that centered around the belief that true happiness would be achieved alongside wealth and fame, just like much of today’s society. They later expressed that method of thinking was flawed. True happiness, they determined, was more likely to be found in relationships. And not just any relationships, but positive, affirming relationships.

When we read this study it made us take a step back and reevaluate our goals on our journey. We agreed that the overarching goal was, and still is, to live healthy and happy lives. This means a large part of our journey will involve paying more attention to our relationships. It’s indisputable that relationships are one of the most important things in our lives, and they have the ability to significantly contribute to our overall well-being.

It’s even more apparent now that being successful and happy involves having positive relationships. These uplifting, encouraging, convicting relationships will help you be a better person, and help you live a healthier and happier life. So if your goal, like ours, is to be find bliss, we would encourage you to start with relationships.

Get coffee with a friend you haven’t been able to make time for. Call a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while. Go visit a grandparent and ask them about their lives. If they’re anything like our grandparents they will have amazing stories that are worth listening to and learning from. Investing in these positive relationships in your life will help set the groundwork for successfully reaching any goal you set for yourself, and ultimately lead you towards success and happiness.

We had a chance to sit down with Amber’s grandfather, Bill Rawlings. He shared his stories and gave us some tips on how to be happy in life. Take a look at Part 6 of our Summer Adventure below!