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Lessons from the World’s Longest Study of Happiness with Dr. Marc Schulz (ep. 570)

Dr. Marc Schulz

John O’Leary welcomes Dr. Marc Schulz to the Live Inspired Podcast to lessons from the world’s longest study of happiness and how to achieve a good life.

Dr. Marc Schulz is the author New York Times bestseller The Good Life and associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted.

Since 1938, this study has tracked three generations of families to uncover what contributed to their happiness surrounding relationships, money, success and what really leads to a happy life. The simple but surprising answer is: relationships. The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives.

Today, Marc helps us understand how 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.

My friends, in a world faced with unprecedented levels of unhappiness and loneliness, Marc empowers us through actionable guidance that it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you have, and never too late to build new ones.

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  • As a psychologist and therapist, Marc finds purpose in learning the experience of others and the conditions in which others thrive.
  • After Marc’s parents divorced, he grew up in two loving yet vastly different cultures. As a life-long educator and artist, Marc learned to observe others from his mother. After fleeing Germany in 1939, Marc’s father taught him how to recall the goodness amongst the challenges in life.
  • In 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development began following 724 individuals to discover what leads to humans thriving.
  • 85 years of research: Today, the study encompasses more than 2,000 individuals, spanning multiple generations from a broad range of social and economic backgrounds and reveals that the strength of a person’s connections with others can predict the health of both their body and their brain as they go through life.
  • “Relationships drive happiness and our physical health.”
  • What is happiness? In addition to the moments of joy and pleasure, the broader idea of life having meaning and purpose contribute to happiness.
  • We often overestimate the need for money and underestimate those who’ve experienced unconventional or humbler of examples of success.
  • The natural social comparison we’re prone to do is more readily accessible because of social media and technology.
  • Learn more about the recent Surgeon General’s advisory on the effects social media has on youth here.
  • Shift away from loneliness and step more deeply into relationships:
  • Outside of physical isolation, loneliness includes the feeling that others don’t understand or care about your well-being.
  • Social fitness: Take inventory of how energizing (or depleting!) you find your current relationships and prioritize spending quality time.
  • “Relationships are challenging. It’s very hard to grow perfectly in sync so differences are inevitable. The key is not worrying about the differences but how to talk about and resolve the important differences.”
  • The Train Study shows the value in talking with others we don’t know well. Instead of rejection, we get a jolt of energy and a buoyed sense of connection.
  • With the nature of Marc’s work, he’s learned just how fleeting life is and the importance of prioritizing what matters.
  • Get a copy of Dr. Marc Schulz New York Times bestselling book The Good Life here.

Did you enjoy today’s conversation?

Find more ways to build meaningful connections and friendship with Dr. Marisa Franco. Marisa’s research reinforces the powerful benefits to platonic relationships and shares implementable strategies to build and elevate the friendships in your life. Listen to Dr. Marisa Franco on ep. 438.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Emotion and Adaptation by Richard Lazarus.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Unbridled joy.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Family photos.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My dad.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Be persistent.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Worry less about each decision. Sometimes we have multiple good choices and obsessing over the perfect choice sometimes means losing the opportunity.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He lived a full and good life and he helped some people.