What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.
The Best Things in Life aren’t Things
Advertising, Facebook, and most media give the impression that wealth is the key to a good life, and that material purchases will make us happy. Wisdom traditions have long taught that material wealth is not the key to happiness. Science supports this wisdom, showing us that things make us less happy (and for shorter periods of time) than experiences, and personal connections make us happier than objects. There is fascinating research on why this is so. Bringing in findings from lifespan research, the teachings of Zen, and a host of examples from the media, I can talk about the difference between what we expect to make us happy, and what actually creates a sense of wellbeing in life. This is relevant to individuals, families, communities, and businesses that want to create a culture of cooperation and synergy.
Stress in the Workplace and your Health – how our work lives can break down our bodies or keep them healthy
There are amazing studies about how our work life can create conditions that promote better health or break down our health. Where you are in an organizational hierarchy is important. But it turns out that your sense of control over what you do is even more important in affecting your health, as is the sense of meaning in your work. These findings have important implications for how organizations can promote or hinder people’s psychological and physical health.
Mindfullness and the Practice of Zen
Mindfulness, when developed into a meditation practice, gradually brings about a fundamental shift in the experience of self in the world. And this shift has tremendous power to ease suffering.
Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science and Zen can teach us about healthy human development.
Dr. Waldinger is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as two books. He teaches medical students and psychiatry residents at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and he is a Senior Dharma Teacher in Boundless Way Zen.