A Ted Talk — Not To Be Missed
We were out to dinner this past weekend when a friend brought up a question based on a TED Talk she had recently heard. Her question she posed to us was — What makes for overall life happiness? The answer was not totally unexpected, but it aroused my interest and so I listened to the TED Talk. I strongly encourage you to take a listen and I will list the name if and a link at the end of this post.
A Bit About The 70 Year Old Study
70 years ago at Harvard University a study was initiated among several hundred participants beginning with people aged 18. Some were college students at Harvard, but the study encompassed a spectrum of people from all walks of life.
They were asked what they thought(at that time) would make for a happy life. Their answers typically were becoming rich or becoming famous. The study continued for 70 years with many participants now in their 90’s. The change in their answer may surprise some of you. The current director of this study gave a TED Talk and I think you would enjoy listening to it. It’s not that long and it will give you lots to think about!
Here is the information for listening to it:
Robert Waldinger: What Makes A Good Life? Lessons from the Largest Study on Happiness
Where To Go When The Spirit Moves You
I have been lucky in life and have been able to explore many parts of the world that I dreamed about in my thirties and forties. I had been around the United States many, many times for both business and pleasure. I must admit I always enjoyed my travels in the U.S. and would look for something new and different every time I visited the same place.
Marrying my soul mate meant we both had the yearning for world travel and so off we went on various explorations. My favorite place so far has been South Africa. A close second would be Turkey; Istanbul was the most exotic city I’ve ever seen. Sydney, Australia was also a favorite place to explore and one I’d like to visit again. Can you guess where this picture was taken? A hint: not a place mentioned in this post!
The Harsh Reality
Gerald Marzorati, author of an upcoming book, “Late To The Ball,” wants us to realize that those of us who are exercising our minds and bodies in hopes of erasing 20 years are merely deluding ourselves. He points out that as we age our eyesight, our fast twitch fibers that give us power and speed will recede, and our balance is not what it was at 40!
Marzorati gives us a suggestion for a way in which we can feel like we did when we are 60+ and want to feel like we are 40. He maintains, “Find something new, something different to immerse yourself in and improve at it.” He is referring to improving at something that demands a new skill set. For example, he mentions trying a new musical instrument or sport. We all remember learning to read and how we worked at getting better at speed and comprehension. He believes that same mind set could set us free — in a sense! He gives the example of how he took up playing tennis in his 50’s. What was great and helped was the end result. Not that he was Wilt Chamberlain, but that the road there was helpful in
strengthening his skill set. A neuroscientist at the University of Texas took 200 people and randomly assigned them new activities to do for 15 hours a week. The results showed that those learning a complicated new skill improved their memory.
Coming To Terms With Reality
The activities you plan will of course help, but many people who study the aging process admit that the aging process still remains a mystery. Marzorati relates that while he got better at tennis he still plays like he is in his 60’s. What’s most important to him is what he learned along the way. Self improvement takes time, but you make it your own. He found himself immersed in the present and what can be in the future. I have to quote his exact words because I found them the most meaningful of his comments.
“In this new pursuit of yours, practice is your practice: it continues to determine the way you eat and sleep and shape your days. It is not your life, but one of the lives that make up your life, and the only onw for which looking ahead, at least for a little while longer, is something done without wistfulness or a flinch.”
ADVICE FROM WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST.LOUIS
The Washington quarterly magazine recently came out and included an article on tips for aging that was collected across various disciplines at the University. These ranged from the medical school, psychology department of Arts & Sciences, and the Brown School of Social Work.
Ways Of Aging More Successfully
- Plan Your Life: Carolyn Baum, professor in the School of Occupational Therapy makes a great suggestion that people need to consider creating a “driving retirement program”. What does this mean? It means thinking about living in an area where you have options for transportation other than driving. People need to reflect on what is important to them and how they can continue their lifestyle.
2. Improve Your Memory:
Dr. Balota, professor of psychological and brain sciences in the school of Arts & Sciences, points out that there are different mnemonic techniques that can help us with memory. What they’ve learned is that “practicing and spacing turns out to be really important in laying down memory traces.” This refers to repeating information and doing it again at intervals.
3. Understand Risks: Know that if a parent gets Alzheimer’s Disease after the age of 80 the increased risk for family members greatly decreases.
4. Talk About The Future: Start the conversation early with family members about what your end of life wishes are before you are unable. Dr. Carpenter, professor of psychological and brain sciences in the School of Arts & Sciences makes a good suggestion. He recommends starting the conversation with a broad question. An example would be – “What would matter to you the most if you were near the end of life?”
5. Expect Some Positive Changes: Good news! There is a high probability that as people navigate from middle age to later years that they will experience more positive emotions and less negative emotions.
6. Find Meaning: Psychologists are learning that as people grow older their relationship with time shifts and there is a need to make good use of their time allotment. There are challenges but opportunities as we age and its important to discover what the purpose is of our life. This could take form in work, volunteer, family or hobbies. We just need to stay engaged!
Question Your Assumption 53,364 people in the United States are 100+ as of 2010 according to Glen Ruffenach’s article in the Encore section of today’s Wall Street Journal. Do you think…
Source: Will You Live to 100????
Question Your Assumption
53,364 people in the United States are 100+ as of 2010 according to Glen Ruffenach’s article in the Encore section of today’s Wall Street Journal. Do you think you will fall into that category? Well, that depends on so many variables. According to Ruffenbach, the number of 90+ people in the United States will quadruple during the next four decades. What does this mean for our retirement plans? History shows that people tend to underestimate how long they will actually live. I have friends who have confided in me that their parents never expected to live into their nineties, and were not adequately prepared for the costs that arise in the later stage of life. What’s exciting and kind of fun are the tools that are available today to help you estimate how long you will live. There is even one that will tell you how many years of Quality Life you have left! Not sure I want to know that one! I am on the Board of an organization called Skyline Village Chicago that has a mission to help people live longer lives in their homes by providing assistance when needed, and many opportunities for social engagement. We were given information about another website and tool that I will include in my list below as a resource for you.
- plan yourlifespan.org(created at Northwestern University to help you plan for health events that happen with age)
- HowLongWillI Live?(myabaris.com)
- BlueZones.com(forecasts healthy life expectancy. Click on tools)
I did take advantage of all these resources. Two of my results came up with the same number. One was much higher! I think I’ll stick with the higher one! What is your life expectancy? Do you want to know? It’s a whole other conversation, but it’s a good way to incentivize yourself to think about your future!