11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Loaded with bombshells, though confirms some of what we already know,
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This review is from: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade S tudy (Hardcover)
The book relates the observations from a long term study of San Francisco gifted students done by Dr. Lewis Terman. It analyzes the major factors found to be relevant, including personality, prudence and persistence, friendliness, happiness, parental divorce, catastrophic thinking, exercise, careers and success, gender, and trauma such as from war. Each chapter contains a test for the reader to discover how he or she rates in the category.
Many of the results were astounding and dispel myths we have about what leads to longevity. For example, the idea that being married correlates with a longer life is much more complex than the surface statement. Men who divorced were thought to live shorter lives not just because they didn't have a wife to take care of them. Divorced men were often found to be less conscientious. And men who were mildly worried and hence conscientious were found to live long regardless of their marital status. So there is, for many of the factors, an external (ex: married or not) as well as an internal (ex: conscientious or not) factor.
Some of the bombshells include: cheerful and optimistic children were LESS likely to live to an old age than their more staid and sober counterparts; being conscientious is one of the major factors in longevity; worrying and stress can actually be GOOD for your health; in interviewing older men, not a single one ever spoke the word DEATH in reference to his own demise; parental divorce often leads to shorter lives; pets don't increase your lifespan; and, as a former teacher, I found this most shocking of all: Kids who go into school at an early age aren't necessary getting a head start--sometimes they develop low self esteem because they are behind their peer, and can have difficulty the rest of their lives!
And of course, not all longevity wisdom had been a myth. The study also confirmed things we already knew, such as having friends you can talk to about feelings will increase your lifespan. Interestingly, however, the size of the social network seems to be more important than the quality of friendships. Also, helping others will make you live longer.
This was a very interesting book and I read it cover-to-cover without reading other books at the same time--it was that engaging! It's relevance is across the board for everyone.