“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” Oprah Winfrey

You are the sum of the people that you surround yourself with, most especially, the partner you spend your life with. While this has long been an assumption, a recent study determined it was a scientific fact.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University sought to answer the question, “What makes people more likely to succeed?” In order to answer this, they brought in 163 married couples and then asked each of them to either solve a simple puzzle or they could go the extra mile and compete for a bigger prize. What they found was that some participants had an advantage.

“We found support for the idea that the choices people make at these specific decision points—such as pursuing a work opportunity or seeking out new friends—matter a lot for their long-term well-being,” explained Brooke Feeney, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Of the participants, the ones who had the more supportive partners were far more likely to compete for the bigger prize, while others had partners who discouraged them. Additionally, when the researchers looked at the couples again, six months down the line, they also discovered that the ones who had more supportive partners in the study also were happier and lived a better life than those who did not.

A major takeaway from this is to support your partner. When your partner comes to you with an opportunity, be enthusiastic with them about the opportunity and reassure them.

“Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities,” said Feeney. “Or they can hinder your ability to thrive by making it less likely that you’ll pursue opportunities for growth.”

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