What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life?

According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize.

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“Blending research from an ongoing 80-year study of life satisfaction with emotional storytelling proves that ancient wisdom has been right all along—a good life is built with good relationships.”


Jay Shetty, New York Times bestselling author of Think Like a Monk and host of the podcast On Purpose

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Translated into over 25 languages. Available worldwide.

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Eight decades. Three generations. Thousands of lives.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is an extraordinary scientific endeavor that began in 1938 and is still going strong (Waldinger is the fourth director, and Schulz its associate director). For over eight decades, the study has tracked the same individuals and their families, asking thousands of questions and taking hundreds of measurements—from brain scans to blood work—with the goal of discovering what really makes for a good life.

Through all the years of studying these lives, strong relationships stand out for their impact on physical health, mental health, and longevity. Waldinger and Schulz boil it down simply:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

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The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study on Happiness

What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful?

The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives.

In fact, the Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that the strength of our connections with others can predict the health of both our bodies and our brains as we go through life.

The personal stories of participants in the Harvard Study and the Study’s key findings are bolstered by research findings from many other studies and from ancient wisdom.
Relationships in all their forms—friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups—all contribute to a happier, healthier life.

And as The Good Life shows us, it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you have, and never too late to build new ones.

"Schulz and Waldinger stand apart. Capitalizing on the most intensive study of adult development in history, they tell us what makes a good life and why." Angela Duckworth, New York Times Bestselling Author of Grit
"Welcome advice for a world facing unprecedented levels of unhappiness and loneliness." Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology, Teach of "Psychology and The Good life", The Most Popular Course in Yale's History

What makes a good life?

Lessons from the longest study on happiness.
Get a preview from the 9th most watched TED talk of all time.

What might you learn from our book?

  • What thousands of life histories tell us about what’s really important in life
  • What social fitness is and how to exercise it
  • Why happiness is not something you achieve
  • What factors in early childhood shape happiness in mid- and late- life
  • The W.I.S.E.R. model of reacting to emotionally challenging situations
  • The unexpected benefits of having a close colleague at work
  • The steps you can take today to live a happier life

Praise for The Good Life

“Want the secret to the good life? Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz give it to you in this magnificent new book. Based on the longest survey ever conducted over people’s lives, The Good Life reveals who winds up happy, who doesn’t, and why—and how you can use this information starting today.

Arthur C Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks
Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and #1 New York Times bestselling author

The Good Life tells the story of a rare and fascinating study of lives over time. This insightful, interesting, and well-informed book reveals the secret of happiness—and reminds us that it was never really a secret, after all.”

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert
Author of the New York Times best-seller Stumbling on Happiness; and host of the PBS television series This Emotional Life

““I’m beyond thrilled that Dr. Waldinger and Dr. Schulz are publishing the findings of the Harvard Study. Over the years, I’ve discussed their research and recommended Dr. Waldinger’s TED talk around the world.  I can hardly wait to recommend The Good Life. The manuscript is accessible, interesting, and grounded in research–and is bound to make a difference in the lives of millions.

Tal Ben-Shahar

Tal Ben-Shahar
Bestselling author of Being Happy: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life, and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

“Waldinger and Schulz have written an essential — perhaps the essential — book on human flourishing. Backed by extraordinary research and packed with actionable advice, The Good Life will expand your brain and enrich your heart.

Daniel Pink

Daniel H. Pink
#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Regret, Drive, and A Whole New Mind

This book is simply extraordinary. It weaves ‘hard data’ and enlightening case studies and interviews together seamlessly in a way that stays true to the science while humanizing it. And what an important lesson it teaches. It helps people to understand how they should live their lives, and also provides a spectacular picture of what psychology can be at its best. It is data driven, of course, but data are just noise without wise interpretation.”

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz
Author of Practical Wisdom (with Kenneth Sharpe) and Why We Work

“A comprehensive examination of what makes a ‘good life,’ based on a study that ‘has followed the lives of two generations of individuals from the same families for more than eighty years.’ . . . An engrossing look at why relationships matter, featuring an unprecedented abundance of data to back it up.”

Kirkus Star

Kirkus Starred Review

“Fascinating. . . . Combining intensive research with actionable steps, this penetrating testament to the power of human connection offers gems for almost anyone looking to improve their happiness.”

Publishers Weekly