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Investing in Relationships

The importance of loving and being loved, caring and being cared for, giving and receiving

The science is clear

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed.

We call our people different things — tribe, team, family, community — but, intuitively, we understand the importance of loving and being loved, caring and being cared for, giving and receiving. As one of the researchers stated, “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains.”

These relationships take different forms and change over time. Like a garden, they need to be pruned, maintained, and nurtured.

One of the negative consequences of technology is that, although we are always connected, we are increasingly lonely. Liking a post is not the same thing as a reassuring smile or word of encouragement. Leaving a comment is less fulfilling than being there for a friend.

This is a newsletter on innovation, so here’s the kicker: since we spend so much time working, we should try to establish deep — healthy — relationships with our colleagues and partners. For all the obvious reasons, this is increasingly hard to do.

The test

If you have a second, run a quick test: look down at your to-do list. Beneath “write this report” or “run that model,” do you have a line item for investing in a relationship? If not, you may be undermining your happiness. For the same reason as you want a friend there during a tough time, entrepreneurs often want, and need, trusted partners during the challenging early stages of company building.

For more information on the importance of relationships, check out the Harvard Study of Adult Development.