What Makes a Good Life?

Click image to start slideshow

Fresh back from a trip to the Great Lakes with other Sunnyside residents, Gini Reese hosted the first TED Talks for Assisted Living in the Bethesda Theater on Monday, September 3. The topic was “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness” by Robert Waldinger. Waldinger is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development.

Nine Assisted Living residents gathered for coffee, juice, and donuts and watched the TED Talk, first writing down for themselves what their goals would be if they were 19 years of age again and had their whole life ahead of them. In watching the video, they then learned that a recent study indicated the life goal for 80% of millennials was to get rich, and 50% would measure success by becoming famous. However, Waldinger reported the results of a 75-year Harvard study that followed 724 men, half of whom were Harvard graduates and half of whom were from the poorest tenements in Boston.

Over time, these men followed many different paths, becoming factory workers, lawyers, bricklayers, doctors, and even one President of the United States. And the major finding of the study was that, regardless of any other factors:

good relationships keep us happier and healthier, • the quality of those relationships matter, and
• good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.

Nowhere did becoming rich or famous show up in the results!

Waldinger closed his speech with a quote from Mark Twain: "There isn't time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heart burnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that."

The group then discussed the value of encouraging quality relationships among residents in Assisted Living and shared a number of ways of inviting greater communication. As one resident said, “Communicating is something we can all learn to do better. Some of us aren’t automatically good talkers!”

The group is looking forward to meeting on the first Saturday of each month to watch more TED Talks and to share their thoughts … a wonderful start to building some good new relationships! For more information, contact Gini Reese at 437-8909 or ginireese@ntelos.net.

--Linda Bradley