The Introduction and Chapter 1 outlined Dr. Lewis Terman’s 80-year study. Starting in 1921 and looking at around 1,500 people, Terman collected data that would later be used to analyze longevity in relation to health. The chapter focused on two subjects: Patricia and John. Out of all the participants, they both lived the longest lives. Researchers in The Longevity Project believe that poor health traits are not due to poor luck but are in relation to personality, family, work, and social relations. Thus, if your personality does not match the personality of someone who will live a longer life, one can attempt to alter it.
This discovery brought up a pretty large question for me. If your personality and social surroundings matter so much, how do so many people become successful rising out of a poor living condition? For example, my dad grew up in a family of alcoholics. His parents were rarely around and when they were, the house was filled with cigarette smoke and the strong smell of alcohol. My dad’s siblings all passed along at a young age along with his parents, most likely due to their poor health habits. Yet, it is incredibly common for children to adopt the personality traits and habits of their parents. My father, who may have many of the same traits, does not possess the habits and is very healthy. This would contradict their initial suggestion. My dad should be unhealthy if health does not come from just illnesses, but from personality, family, and social life. Thus, I am having a difficult time believing the initial statement made by the authors. Perhaps my dad is simply an exception to this rule.