I’ve posted previously about the Grant Study. It followed (and continues to follow) a group of men through their entire adult lives and into old age to determine what is associated with health and well-being.
George Valliant’s book Triumphs of Experience covers the results of the study and what he learned shepherding it.
Looking at the men who were happiest and most accomplished in their 80′s researchers were able to see similarities.
Which men would go on to fare the best and worst in the 10 key categories (referred to as “the Decathlon”) could have been determined by answers to survey questions asked 30 years prior:
At about age fifty, the men were asked to respond to 182 true-or-false statements in the Lazare Personality Scale. Eight of those statements very significantly distinguished the men who thirty years later would receive the lowest Decathlon scores from the men who received the highest. That is, they distinguished the lonely, the unhappy, and the physically disabled from the happy, successful, and physically well. Remarkably, the same eight midlife questions also very significantly distinguished the men who had been classified as Loveless and Cherished thirty years prior to testing.
- My behavior with the opposite sex has led to situations that make me anxious.
- I have often thought that sexually, people are animals.
- I usually feel that my needs come first.
- Others have felt that I have been afraid of sex.
- I easily become wrapped up in my own interests and forget the existence of others.
- I put up a wall or shell around me when the situation requires it.
- I keep people at a distance more than I really want to.
- I have sometimes thought that the depth of my feelings might become destructive.
…These eight revealing questions address a fundamental discomfort with the emotional aspects of life, and a resulting self-doubt, pessimism, and fearfulness. Men with warm childhoods subscribed to very few of these statements, but (very significantly) the less fortunate men often subscribed to four or more. And the more at ease the men were with their feelings, the more successful they were at the rest of their lives.
Take a second to review: how many of those eight statements do you agree with?
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