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The longest study ever conducted on human happiness has revealed that relationships are vital to a person’s health and happiness. This study by Harvard University has been ongoing since 1938, spanning over generations of participants. They have found that close relationships and social connections are crucial for our health and well-being as we age. Having supportive relationships in our lives has been described as a “buffer to life’s stresses”. It also showed that people with strong social connections had lower rates of diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline, and other chronic conditions.

What did Covid-19 teach us?

During the multiple lockdowns of the global Covid-19 pandemic, many of us struggled at times with our mental health, due to a disconnection from others. We were faced with new challenges of not being able to engage in this important activity we had perhaps previously taken for granted. It felt isolating and scary at times. We missed our families, our friends and even our colleagues- which often made us feel sad and lonely.

The question now is, what did we learn from it?

What I realised, is that we can eat the healthy food, do the exercise, get enough sleep, and practice the breathing exercises, BUT if, at the end of the day you are lonely, your health and well-being will suffer, and happiness may be harder to achieve.


What can we do about it?

Having and maintaining social connections takes effort. If we actively pursue and nurture our relationships, we will reap the rewards.

Challenges for the coming weeks:

-Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

-Knock on the door of a neighbour and ask how they are?

-Organise something fun and invite a friend or a family member over to join in.

-Sign up to volunteer at an event or for an organisation which you feel is important to your values.

-Get involved with events going on in your community. Read the notice board in your local supermarket or ask around to find out what’s on.

-Make eye contact and smile to the bus driver, the shop attendant or even a stranger.


As humans, we are social beings who crave to love and to be loved. Compassion helps us to be kind. Curiosity and open heartedness help us to empathise with others and share in their suffering.

Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen to us. Interestingly, the words “listen” and “silent” are composed of the same letters! In relationships, we do not always need to have a solution for each other’s problems, but to just be there and listen is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to somebody. To give a person a safe space to vocalise their worries and to feel heard is a powerful tool to help them along on their healing journey.


I recently heard the phrase, “Holding onto a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. If somebody commits a crime against you, you have every right to be angry and to stay angry at them. But ask yourself, what will your life look like when you carry that around? Some people feel that if they forgive a wrong doer, they are letting them get away with their crime. But forgiveness is not absolution. Forgiveness is an empowered emotional choice. Before Nelson Mandela was released from prison he said, unless he left his pain, anger, and bitterness behind him, he would still be in prison. Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, it can set you free.

Desmond Tutu once said:

“When you set out to change the world, the job seems insurmountable. But each of us can do his or her small part to effect change. We change the world when we choose to create a world of forgiveness in our own heart and minds. It is our nature to forgive, to reconcile and rebuild the broken pieces of our relationships. Every hand that extends itself in a gesture of forgiveness is a hand working toward the creation of peace in the world.”


I want to invite you to practice this little task.

Go somewhere quiet. Sit comfortably. Perhaps, light a candle and simply repeat the following lines below.

The first time you say them, use “I”, about yourself.

The next time use “you”, thinking about somebody you love.           

The final time, think of somebody who has caused you upset or has hurt you in the past, and say these words to them. This can be difficult, but by letting go of past wrongdoings, you are freeing yourself.

“May I/you be healthy”.

“May I/you be safe”.

“May I/you be happy”.

“May I/you be at peace”.

“May I/you be loved”.

Notice how you feel afterwards.

I hope you enjoyed it.



  • If you want to speak to accredited therapists, psychotherapists, or counsellors in Ireland, they can be found here
  • For a Loving-Kindness Meditation, click here

  • Dr. Rebecca Quinn, Child & Adolescent Clinical Psychologist: Instagram account can be found here


Feel Better, Live More by Dr Rangan Chatterjee: #410 The Life-Changing Power of Connecting with Others: Gabor Maté, Johann Hari, Dan Buettner & Friends 
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