“Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age. Anais Nin
Last year I attended my 50th High School reunion in Larned, Kansas where I grew up. I was fortunate enough to be able to share that experience with several of my girlfriends who I have known since I was in elementary school. We’ve remained friends over the last 60 plus years and when we’re together, it’s as if we were still young girls. Time seems to stand still. And, the only difference is that our bodies have changed.
That memory reminds me of what my mother used to say, “I feel like a young girl on the inside”. At the time she said that; I didn’t know what she meant. She also used to tell me that “when we’re getting older it’s our attitude that makes the difference”. And, she went on to say that “having good relationships is the key”. Of course, I didn’t entirely understand the depth of her meaning but, in retrospect, I “saw” and “experienced” what she meant.
I have many vivid memories of those times. I remember her and my Dad playing canasta every Friday night with their friends. And, I could hear their laughter from the next room where I was playing with my friends. I also remember my mother and my grandmother standing in front of the kitchen counter, on the farm, while they prepared dinner and they would laugh until they cried. It was catching and soon everyone was laughing. I remember my grandfather, who escaped from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, playing practical jokes on all of us. And, each time he tricked us; he would chuckle with joy, even though he’d done it many times before. And, I remember all of the celebrations we enjoyed together – birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, harvest, births, etc. etc. And, no one complained about being old.
I was reflecting on this over this last week because I’ve been thinking about aging. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been asking myself some questions such as, “am I aging consciously”, “am I doing it gracefully”, “do I feel like a young girl on the inside”, “am I satisfied with my relationships”?
So, I started searching for some information about this and found the following research study. It impacted me greatly and I want to share it with you. It is described in a Ted Talk (which I’ve posted below) by Harvard Medical School professor and researcher, Robert J. Waldinger and is about a 75 year ongoing study on happiness. Yes, this study has been going on for 75 years and he is the fourth person to run this study!
As stated by Amy Knapp in a Next Avenue blog,” the researchers selected a group of 724 men from the Boston area — 268 sophomores from Harvard College and 456 teenagers from the inner city — and followed them as they aged. The men grew to become lawyers, bricklayers, doctors and even a future President of the United States — John F. Kennedy.” And, what they found out was that the key to happiness is this: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.” Waldinger says that “It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic.” Waldinger went on to say that it wasn’t necessarily that these people needed to be in a committed relationship, but “it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health.”
Wow! Now, that’s important, don’t you think? You might want to check out this YouTube video posted below. It was very insightful for me. And, I’m pleased to say that the answer to all my questions above about aging is an emphatic “YES”!
What are your thoughts about aging and happiness? I’m eager to hear back from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.