Introduction & Chapter One

In the introduction and chapter one, Friedman and Martin (2011) review the premise of their book: to identify the psychological and environmental characteristics that are associated with longer lives. Dr. Terman’s longitudinal study of 1500 participants showed detailed qualitative data on their families, schooling, activities, personalities, and social relations. By doing so, they hope to see whether certain traits predicted their health over time. Personality, social relations, family, and work are all relevant to healthy/unhealthy lifestyles. At the end of chapter one, the authors predicted that highly sociable and conscientious children would lead healthier and longer lives. However, the chapter ends with a cliffhanger, claiming that their hypothesis was only half right.

It is insightful for the authors to note that there must be a series of healthy traits one must possess to leave a better life. For example, one single action, such as increasing water intake, will not “cancel out” high amounts of soda drunken. Rather, there must be a lateral inhibition of decreasing soda intake as well. In my experience, by changing one part of their diet region, people may feel like they are on a pathway to a healthier lifestyle. While this may be semi-true, a healthy lifestyle encompasses more than diet. There needs to be a more holistic perspective taken on how to be heathier rather than just focusing on the physical.

For example, in my future, rather than just focusing on what I am eating and the exercise I do, it is also important to view my goals as attainable, work towards them, maintain good social relations, and practice some stress-relieving activity. In class, the speaker spoke about the different health dimensions (ie emotional, physical, financial, etc.). These all have an impact on my psychological well-being. As the book states, individual differences in my personality and perspective towards life affects my health. If I can consciously make better choices in most, if not all, these health dimensions, then I believe that my overall health would improve.

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3 Responses to Introduction & Chapter One

  1. Brittany Woo says:

    Having a holistic approach to our health is a factor that I agree with, but with our generation or our daily lives, why do you think people are only focusing on one or two things rather than a spectrum?

    What are some goals that you hope to set and achieve that would better your overall health and attitude? I believe that as graduating seniors the biggest health aspects we need to be aware of is stress in new situations we’ve never dealt with before (ie buying your own car, renting your own place, living in a new city, and starting a new job, etc.). Once you pinpoint the stresses that could occur, making a plan to manage that now will help you before you face the situation.

  2. Natalie Szumel says:

    Jessica–I really liked how you connected our class discussions to the book chapter. It helps to illustrate that what we are reading about in LP is powerful and widely believed.

  3. Eve Gilles says:

    I agree with your point about the reciprocity between different aspects of health. This phenomenon is described in The Longevity Project as the existence of pathways, or patterns in which risk factors and protective shields bunch together. For me, if I set a goal to exercise more and follow through, I feel less overwhelmed by my daily stress. When I am in a better mental state, I am less likely to stress eat junk food (something I will later regret) or take out my frustration on friends and family. As a result, my eating habits and interpersonal relationships improve and I feel more confident and happy. In this way, my physical, social and mental health benefits from exercising more, exemplifying the interconnectedness between different health dimensions.

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