Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I know I've been quiet lately, and it's been sort of bugging me that my blog has been sitting here all lonely and un-updated, but things have been busy (er - sorta) and I haven't been in a writing mood. Don't take it personally. Work has picked up again, I've been watching very important TV shows online such as Brothers and Sisters (ugh, worst season finale EVER) and Ghost Hunters. (YAY! I forgot how much I like that show. It is so creeeepy. But I'm not a fan of Ghost Hunters International- it's too sensationalized. And there's that girl who calls everything "Crazy!" And I can't decide if it bugs me because she's annoying or because I say "Crazy" a lot and I don't really want to be like her. Wow digression, moving ON.)

I had a really good day today. I woke up happy and energetic and the whole day just went that way, which I guess hasn't happened in a while. I don't know if all the working out is finally paying off in a massive energy rush or if my sleep schedule has evened out a bit with a prudent run of Ambien, but I feel like a whole new person. I am on fire! I can take on the world!

Tonight I was reading the June issue of The Atlantic, and they had an article about happiness and the Harvard Study, which has been following a group of men around since they were in college in the 1940s. A bunch of these men are still alive (in their 80s now) and the very detailed psychological records have found some really interesting correlations between happiness and how long you live. The article is fascinating, and it's available online here if you feel like reading it. Be warned: it is very VERY long and I have to admit I haven't finished it yet but it's one of those things that are probably digested better in little chunks instead of the whole thing at once. Like a cheesecake.

So, the secret to a long life of good mental and physical health include: mature adaptations (I'll get into that in a minute because to me that's the interesting part), education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. If you have 5 or 6 out of the 7 you statistically have a good chance of living a long happy life. As the article pointed out, there were surprises as to what makes you healthy. Cholesterol doesn't matter when you get old. And growing up with a level of financial comfort doesn't matter over the long run, and neither does your childhood temperament (like if you're shy or awkward or whatever, thank God, this is a good sign for me!), but relationships are KEY. You have to maintain good relationships and trust. Fascinating stuff.

So the whole mature adaptations part is really interesting. Apparently there are different levels of how a person adapts to different levels of discomfort (and maybe you learned all about this in a psychology class somewhere, so just skim it): how a person defends themselves from psychological challenges can reveal things about your entire quality of life. For example, a person who is really bad at adapting to these challenges would be in the worst-off group which includes people who are paranoid, have hallucinations, and seem crazy to anyone but themselves. The next group are the "immature" adaptations which include passive-aggressive behavior, acting out, and generally acting like a kid in high school. The next group has "neurotic" defenses, which is where I'm guessing most adults fall. This behavior includes repression and intellectualization (Woody Allen anyone?). The fourth group, the one we're all working towards, are the "mature" adaptations, which are healthiest. This category of defense mechanisms include humor, anticipation (planning for discomfort), suppression (you're not going to think about it anymore right now- who knew Scarlett O'Hara was so on the ball?) and sublimation.

So you basically want to move through these stages of adaptation (and maybe just miss the first one completely) over the course of your life. According to this study, most of the men in the study started using mature adaptations as they got older. So you really can't predict how a person who acts like a jackass at 20 is going to act at 50 if they are progressing along this path of adaptive maturity. I think this explains a lot about relationships. While a lot of people feel like they grow apart in relationships, and it is probably because their adaptive capabilities have either grown at different speeds or someone just stopped progressing completely (and this is not a new idea), now there's a REASON for it. There's a psychological field that studies it and books have been written about it and that has to be sort of reassuring and validating, right?

I'm sorry if this reads like a book report. I just think it is really interesting, because while a lot of adults I know act like they're in high school I never knew there were levels of maturity mapped and tied to psychiatric disorders. I'd really love to know if women have the same predictors that men do, although I have a feeling they're probably very close. So back up there a few paragraphs I gave you the secret to a mentally and physically healthy life. Go write them down and follow them (and better yet, read the article) and I'll see you at 90!

PS I have way too much pride to post this as an embedded video, but if you really want to see something totally silly and ridiculous, watch this Craig Ferguson opening from last night. And if you're going to watch it, you have to watch until at least 53 seconds because it's just... STUPID. And FUNNY And oh yeah, is that supposed to be Harry Potter??? If you don't like that, well, go find SNL's Motherlover short (I'm not even going to bother linking to that one because NBC kills links so fast), because that too is FUNNY! And WRONG!

No comments: