PART 2: The Longest Ever Study on humans...and how it affects Expats in Spain.



Robert J. Waldinger is Harvard psychiatrist who heads the longest scientific study ever conducted on human happiness - the Harvard Longitudinal Study of Adult Development.

It began back in 1938 with over 700 randomly selected participants.

Despite the fact that many of the original researchers and participants have died, Dr. Waldinger, as the study's fourth director, has access to an unprecedented wealth of data on happiness. And what he's found might not completely shock you...


According to Dr. Waldinger's research, the key to long-lasting-happiness isn't wealth or fame. No, the true secret to lasting happiness are good, warm connections with other people.

But... what is surprising, is that these connections don't have to be necessarily deep or intimate; even surface-level connections with your community and environment can have a profound impact on your overall sense of mental well-being. And... physical health too.

 

Re-read that last sentence again and let that sink in...

At first, researchers and neuroscientists didn’t even believe the results... How could relationships affect our physical health too? The study found that individuals who feel connected to those around them have sharper brains, are less likely to develop diabetes or heart disease, and recover faster from illnesses. And therefore live on average 20 years longer than... 

Those who feel isolated and disconnected (even if they're surrounded by people), because they are more prone to loneliness, depression, inflammation, and chronic stress.

A lot of it is down to seratonin, oxytocin and a stress response circulating in your blood, the fight or flight response. And warm relationships reduce those stress hormones...

Here's Dr. Huberman's stance (nr. 2)... on this study.


But back to Dr. Waldinger...

According to him simply chatting with your barista every morning, getting to know your neighbors, or interacting with colleagues at work can help you cultivate a sense of belonging and increase your overall happiness (and thus health).

But, as someone who has experienced moving into a foreign country 7 times. 

 Without speaking the local language, like Spanish f.e., I can attest to the big hurdles that the language barrier presents.

Even if you can communicate in English, it's tough to truly become the part of the community, to be an “insider” when you're perceived as “that” foreigner who doesn't speak the local lingo. This usually leads to a constant feeling as an “outsider.”

The Spanish, although respectful and polite are well within reason to think that anyone who lives here for years should be able to speak their language...

Imagine how would you feel if you had foreign nationals coming to your country not really interested in speaking your language. 

But... many of the expats really do put an effort in and try to learn Spanish.

What's ironic here is that the very institutions that expats turn to for help, such as language schools, may be exacerbating the problem. 

Language schools are propelled by Billion-dollar Grammar industry that perpetuates misconceptions about learning Spanish, focusing on many pointless aspects instead of the one crucial thing that determines your level of spoken Spanish.

In other areas of life, focusing on one critical aspect can yield significant results.

G. Keller author of the book "The One Thing" observed that "the one thing approach” is effective even when time is limited.

He once consulted his friend (a guitar expert) asking for advice on which guitar-activity to prioritize if he only had 30 minutes per day, in order to achieve 80% of the desired results.

This approach proved for him (again) successful.

And, to uncover one activity that succesfull Spanish speakers-learners do, who better to look to than children?

But first, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room...

The current approach to language learning is a broken system that's leaving too many expats in Spain feeling frustrated and disillusioned.

Not only that the current system doesn’t help, that would be the least of the problem, but what many don't realise is that it’s actually damaging to the students.

It prevents them to speak with flow and therefore destroys their confidence, motivation and convinces many that they don’t have talent or are too old.

The system interested more in selling millions of grammar books, (and the amount of meaningless points scored on some obscure exam)... than helping students achieve spoken fluency.

I wanna give you a...

Friendly Warning

I'm making no friends here, with what I'm about to reveal... It will not help you to add some points on a Spanish grammar test about grammar knowledge, but it will definitely equip you with the tools to converse in Spanish effortlessly, in about 90 days. Conversational fluency, free from the shackles of hesitation or self-doubt... To be able to hold your own in lively conversations with Spanish-speaking folks over a cold brew, without asking them to adjust their speaking pace for you.

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