Robert Waldinger Profile

  • Dr. Waldinger is an expert on the science behind health, happiness and well-being.

  • Dr. Waldinger is a clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School (2013-present).

  • Dr. Waldinger is a top life balance and happiness keynote speaker, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and the current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development.
  • Dr. Robert Waldinger is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who studies human development across the adult lifespan, with a special emphasis on the ways that close relationships shape our lives and affect our health.

    Dr. Waldinger is also Director of the Center for Psychodynamic Therapy and Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. As one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history, the study has been following two groups of men over the last 75 years to identify the psychosocial predictors of healthy ageing. Research questions include what aspects of childhood and adult experience predict the quality of intimate relationships in late life, and how late life marriage is linked with health and well-being.

    He was the recipient of a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health to study emotion regulation and health in intimate adult relationships. He is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as two books, and he is on the faculty of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute.

    Drawing from this work, his talks offer insight into relationships and their impact on the happiness and health of our lives; meditation and the wisdom of Zen, and how we can practice these for a more fulfilling life; psychotherapy’s role in healing and living the life we want; and the latest research from the longitudinal study on adult life.

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    Robert Waldinger's Speech Descriptions


    What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone—but, according to a long-running life study, you’re also mistaken. As the director of an 80-year-old study of adult development, Robert Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on what brings true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, Waldinger shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how you can build a fulfilling, long life.


    Would you rather be rich in things or experiences? Advertising, Facebook, and most media give the impression that material wealth is the key to a good life. On the other hand, wisdom traditions have long taught us that material wealth does not bring lasting joy. Science supports this wisdom, showing that material things make us less happy (and for shorter periods of time) than experiences, and personal connections bring more joy than physical objects. Taking findings from his lifespan research, the teachings of Zen, and examples from the media, Robert Waldinger shares the difference between what we expect to make us happy and what actually creates a sense of wellbeing


    Relationships are vital not only to our personal health and happiness — they’re also central to an organization’s success. Research has shown that productivity on a team and in larger organizations depends less on IQ and/or aggressiveness than on positive personal connections with others. The quality of these connections impacts loyalty, job satisfaction, collaboration, and innovation. Despite this, worker disengagement is running rampant, with loneliness in the workplace at an all-time high. So how do organizations cultivate a relationship-centric approach in order to empower a higher-functioning workforce? In this talk, Robert Waldinger shares research on how organizations can help or hinder people’s psychological and physical health and gives advice on how companies can create more healthy work environments.


    How we deal with change has a profound effect on our work lives and personal contentment. Marriage and children, promotions and retirement, old habits and new behavior, vacation freedom and work pressure: We’re constantly facing transitions. Managing these life transitions well is central to our health, happiness, and productivity. In this talk, Robert Waldinger discusses how understanding the stages of adult life can play a critical role in dealing with the transitions all of us must face, how relationships are critical to dealing with these transitions, and how a game plan for transition is critical to happy, healthy and productive lives and organizations.

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    Books by Robert Waldinger:

    The Good Life

    What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? In their “captivating” (The Wall Street Journal) book, the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, show that the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize.

    What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? The simple but surprising answer is: relationships. The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and 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 invaluable insights in this book emerge from the revealing personal stories of hundreds of participants in the Harvard Study as they were followed year after year for their entire adult lives, and this wisdom was bolstered by research findings from many other studies. 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 already have, and never too late to build new ones. The Good Life provides examples of how to do this.

    Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk about the Harvard Study, “What Makes a Good Life,” has been viewed more than 42 million times and is one of the ten most-watched TED talks ever. The Good Life has been praised by bestselling authors Jay Shetty “an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection”), Angela Duckworth (“In a crowded field of life advice…Schulz and Waldinger stand apart”), and happiness expert Laurie Santos (“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful”).

    With “insightful [and] interesting” (Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness) life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.

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