In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off ‘Triumphs of Experience’, the longest-running longitudinal study of human development in history. The study’s goal was to determine what factors contribute most strongly to flourishing.
“Reporting on all aspects of life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies, and alcohol use (its abuse being by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects), this study shares a number of surprising findings. For example, the people who do well in old age did not necessarily do so well in midlife, and vice versa. While the study confirms that recovery from a lousy childhood is possible, memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength. Marriages bring much more contentment after age 70, and physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50. The credit for growing old with grace and vitality, it seems, goes more to ourselves than to our stellar genetic makeup. The most important influence by far on a flourishing life is love.”
This historic study reminds us that true happiness comes from the relationships we forge with care and love. It is not the number of patients we see, nor monthly collections that determine our long-term personal satisfaction. Our greatest emotional paycheck comes from a higher focus. Considering that the emerging health care model mandates a patient-centric focus- it looks like our future will be even brighter than our past.
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