Chapters 10 & 11

At the beginning of Chapter 10, I was surprised to find out that Edward Dmytryk lived such a long life, despite the seemingly endless hardships he encountered throughout his life. It was also nice to read that stress is not necessarily as negative as we perceive it to be, or as others seem to make it out for us. Although the authors explain why their findings on career choices are mostly based on the men who either “chose their life work” or not, I would have appreciated an example of a woman and how she reacted to her job either fulfilling what she hoped it would or not. The examples the authors provide about career successes, however, make up for this and one of the findings that stood out to me the most from this chapter was that pressure to succeed actually helps a person.

I feel as though we are constantly being told that although success is important, it is not as important as other aspects of life, such as health or family relationships and friendships. I do agree that these are all important, but in my opinion, success in life is equally as important. Personally, I think success affects all of these (our mental and physical health, as well as any relationships we may have with friends, and the way we help sustain our families at home). The story of Shelley Smith is astonishing and I am glad this book has mentioned her a few times because I have learned about her in several of my journalism classes as well. The fact that Smith died at 86, after being captured and facing constant challenges as a journalist, having a happy marriage and healthy children, certainly proves to me, and hopefully other readers, that leading a stressful life does not mean it will be a short, or unhappy one too. My parents always emphasize what Friedman and Martin emphasize in this chapter: aside from education, being motivated and able to surpass the challenges life throws at you is also essential to your health. This seems pretty self-explanatory to me, but I think it is important to reiterate, since so many people seem to focus on education being the key component to success in life.

After growing up in a Catholic household, attending church regularly and being a student at a Catholic high school, religion, afterlife and death have always been interconnected in my life. It is something I have been taught at home and in the school setting — so, I genuinely understand where these Terman participants in Chapter 11 are coming from. I think health based on religious beliefs varies though, depending on the household the person grows up in. For example, although it’s true that many religious people stay away from drugs and alcohol, there are also the children who are raised so strictly, based on their religions, that they steer toward alcohol and drugs as a form of rebellion. So, how could this affect longevity? I think it would be interesting to research into this phenomenon and decipher more of the negative ways in which religion can impact longevity — because I am sure there are several case studies that can be examined.

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