A Happier New Year – The New York Times

For more than 80 years, Harvard researchers have studied what makes a good life. They found a surefire, scientifically proven predictor of happiness: developing warmer relationships.

A team of reporters from the Times health and wellness bureau, Well, have developed a seven-day challenge to help you do just that. I spoke with Jancee Dunn, one of the reporters behind the program, about what she found when she tried it.

Lauren: When I see a ‘New Year’s Challenge’, I immediately feel tired. How is this one different?

Jance: It’s not a training camp, and it’s not a sugar challenge, which would be very difficult for me. It’s a relationship challenge that will help you to approach and improve different parts of your social universe with seven scientific exercises. More than that, it’s a way of thinking about your relationships and what sustains you.

How did you come up with the idea for this?

Many of us on the well desk had read “The Good Life” by Dr. Robert Waldinger, and we loved that book. This is the Harvard study of adult development, which began during the depression. For generations, researchers have followed families from different socioeconomic backgrounds, asking incredibly detailed questions and giving them medical exams.

And what did the study find?

What came out was that relationships are a crucial part of happiness.

If you have to make one decision that will ensure your health and happiness, science tells us it should be to cultivate warm relationships of all kinds. It’s not just about having a partner. It is in all areas of your life. So we worked with Dr. Waldinger to create exercises to help people cultivate more happiness in their relationships.

One of the challenges is to invite to write a “eulogy for the living” or tell someone why you are grateful to them right now. Have you tried it?

I did it once with my fourth grade teacher, Roseann Manley. She wrote on my newsletter, “Jancee is a very talented writer, and I think she will one day become a famous writer. And I’m not a famous writer, but I remember reading this and thinking, “Oh, she sees something in me.” And it changed the course of my life.

So I found Mrs. Manley, all these years later. And I told him how grateful I was. And we have now exchanged dozens and dozens of letters. She is 91 years old, widowed and has no children. I call him every Christmas. She sends me letters with puppies and kittens on the stationery. She became my replacement grandmother. It’s a wonderful thing.

Another challenge encourages talking to strangers. You are a journalist, what are your tips for starting these conversations?

My standard line for people with babies and dogs is, “How does it feel to be ignored by everyone because your baby-dog is so cute?” One hundred percent success rate.

Or, if someone looks like they need a little help, you can say, “How was your day?” When you say “How are you?” people feel compelled to say “Good”, and that’s it. An open question is fine.

Asking these questions can be uncomfortable and you risk being rejected. But it can have maximum reward for truly minimal effort. And what’s better than that?

Do you have any advice for readers who might be interested in trying to make changes like these, but are slow to make them?

Research shows that many people think, “Oh, I’ll be happy in the future when I get the job I want, when I have the money, or when I retire and have more time. .” But the idea of ​​a surplus of time is a mistake. You can do something small and action today.

Register for Well’s seven-day challenge here. You will receive a new email every day, starting tomorrow, with a quiz to assess the status of your relationships.

Related: Create a workout routine in 2023 from what you love the most.

War in Ukraine



Other Great Stories

Great advances in solar power capacity and other technologies are part of why now may be the best time to live, Nicholas Kristoff argue.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s promise to save the Amazon will be the defining issue of his presidency in Brazil, Heriberto Araujo written.

Southwest Airlines’ need to modernize its scheduling systems has been an open (and shameful) secret within the company for some time, Zeynep Tufekci said.

Sunday’s question: How will history remember 2022?

The past 12 months will be remembered as a “pivotal year in history”, like 1940, when the world faced the threat of authoritarianism, writes Bret Stephens for The Times. Or maybe we don’t remember it at all, argues Joachim Klement on Substack.

Our editors’ picks: “The Tudors in Love”, an exploration of passion and politics at the time of England’s most famous dynasty, and eight other books.

Times bestsellers: Our latest lists reveal which books were the best holiday gifts.

On the cover: the new chapter of Kendrick Lamar.

Speak: An AI pioneer on what we should really fear.

Ethicist: “My partner’s parents stay with us every weekend. Do I have my say?

Eat: Make the new year better with dumplings.

Read the full issue.

To monitor

  • Today is New Year’s Day. Financial markets will be closed tomorrow, an observed federal holiday.

  • Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn in today as President of Brazil.

  • Oregon today becomes the first state to allow the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by adults.

  • The Rose, Cotton and Citrus college football games are tomorrow.

  • Pele’s body will rest in midfield at a stadium in Santos, Brazil, from tomorrow before a private burial on Tuesday.

  • The 118th US Congress meets on Tuesday.

  • The suspect arrested last week in the stabbing deaths of four Idaho college students will appear in an extradition hearing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

  • Rick Singer, the mastermind of the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, is to be sentenced in federal court on Wednesday.

  • Benedict XVI’s funeral will be held Thursday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

  • CES, the major annual consumer electronics show, opens on Thursday.

What to cook this week


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