In 1937, researchers at Harvard began a remarkable psychological study of Harvard sophomores that has continued up to the present day. Unlike most other clinical studies which focus on illnesses, the goal of the Grant Study was to examine health and well-being. The Atlantic has published a fascinating article—What Makes Us Happy?—about the Study and Doctor George Vaillant, who has been its director for the past 42 years. The depth of it is just staggering.
One quote in particular jumped out at me. In the video interview accompanying the article, Dr. Vaillant says:
Its alright that young people can do the things that they can do. I mean the youth that the old envy is accompanied by the miserable process of getting from 25 to 35 where you’ve got all this health and all this youth and you’re scared stiff that when it’s all said and done you’re not going to amount to a hill of beans. And if you just wait virtually all of them by the time they were 45 or 50 amounted to something. And knowing that is such a relief. You just don’t know it at 30.
I must admit I hadn’t really thought of it this way before. Being in the (upper end) of that age group myself, I really hadn’t considered that the anxieties of the past decade are, in fact, typical for people our age. “And knowing that is such a relief. You just don’t know it at 30.” Yes it is, and no I didn’t. But I feel a bit better about it now.