If you're looking for a science-backed way to make 2017 a happy new year, there are other options besides reluctantly dragging yourself to the gym or thinking, "What should I change about myself?"
A recent Harvard study, which examines almost a century's worth of data, reveals a simple way to be happier and more successful next year: Spend more time with people who make you happy.
Harvard's Grant & Glueck study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of 268 male graduates from Harvard, as well as 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014. Multiple generations of researchers analyzed brain scans, blood samples, self-reported surveys and interactions of these men to compile their findings.
The conclusions are simple. Close relationships can make or break a person's well-being, according to Robert Waldinger, Harvard professor of psychology and director of the center behind the study.
"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period," Waldinger says in a 2015 Tedx talk.
If you want to be happier and healthier in the coming year, invest in close, positive relationships.
Having someone to lean on keeps brain function high and reduces emotional, and even physical, pain. People who feel lonely are more likely to experience health declines earlier in life, and they tend to die sooner, the study says.