Participating in war, especially overseas, especially in the Pacific, especially in combat, led to shorter longevity. As the authors state, “The more alien and disturbing the situation, the worse the later health.” Chronic stress and PTSD that result from engaging in war extremely affect longevity. This is not surprising because I’ve grown up during a time of active war and have learned about and witnessed many an individual who do not return from war the same person they once were. We know that prolonged stress equates to prolonged elevated levels of cortisol, which in turn is harmful to the body. It was interesting the find by the study done in New Zealand that found those “good genes” were less susceptible to depression even if they faced a lot of stress.
The grand moral for Chapter 15? Despite how it has come to be commonly understood, health is more than simply the absence of disease. And “health” and “wellness” should be used interchangeably not separately and distinctly. Following that, chapter 15 essentially summarized each of the previous 14 chapters and some of the main findings from each.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was in the Army in the Korean War. I do not know how old he was when he died, but I want to say he was in his low 60’s—in other words, he was younger than we would have all liked for him to have been when he passed. He died from a heart attack in his sleep. I imagine his being a black man in the Jim Crow south combined with going to war and the family line having a history of heart disease/high-blood pressure all contributed to his early passing. I just wonder now how much the war effort played a part as well.
Playing military-style video games are about as close to war and combat as I plan to ever get so I am not worried about chapter 14 so much. In regards to chapter 15, I don’t fear how long I will live but rather I simply palnto and try to live my best life while I still do have it. I consider my eating habits, exercising habits, and other extraneous habits and factors all pretty “well-rounded” and balanced. I understand there are some “invisible” factors or things I simply may be ignorant to that may result in a shorter life expectancy, but like I said, I ain’t scared.
I will say, I did like that the authors very clearly addressed the fact that each of our estimated or expected longevity’s is a result/prediction more so of our life paths, that is what we do as individual’s to and for our bodies throughout our lifetimes, than anything else. Many people, including many I know and even myself at times, try to blame others (family, family history, or friends) for our downfalls and deficiencies. But truly, we ought to give ourselves more credit, both for the good and the bad. The latter obviously can be more difficult but ultimately accepting and working towards improving our deficiencies is what will lead to our success (in this case, greater longevity) in the end. I will agree, the Terman study is very beneficial to public health and society because it provides tangible data and not-too-far-off correlations of real life events/things. It offers real life solutions/tips to better health outside of the “magic” pills we ever increasingly see today.
I do not believe I ever recall learning of the race of Terman’s participants, but oddly (correctly) enough, they just about all were white. By this I am not surprised, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed. However, I won’t weigh too much on this point as Terman himself was simply a product of his environment at the time of the start (and continuation) of the study. That said, I wouldn’t venture far to say the US has become just as unhealthy racially as it has physically and mentally despite all of the countless efforts to solve all of these issues.
But to end on a positive note 🙂 overall, I am pleased to have read this book as it provided a lot of information and perspective on how health was and is viewed as well, of course, as what recommendations/changes I can utilize to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.