Brain Pickings

The Longevity Project: Insights on Life from an 80-Year Study

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Immortality has long been humanity’s existential pipe dream, but its holy grail has evaded us scientists and philosophers alike since time immemorial. But as modern science continues to strive for eternal youth, the true secrets of longevity may lie where we least expect to find them. In The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, social psychologists Leslie Martin and Howard Friedman dissect one of the most famous studies in the history of psychology to reveal the character traits, habits and mindsets that make some people live longer than others. And the findings are guaranteed to surprise you.

The project is based on an 80-year longitudinal study of that began in 1921, when researchers started following 1,500 then-kids to investigate the habits and behaviors that made them thrive and perish. Its revealing conclusions, rather than didactically overwhelming you with long to-do lists of thing to keep you forever young, help you develop simple patterns that lay the foundation for a healthier, longer life.

The most surprising thing to me in The Longevity Project was the differences that we found for men versus women when they encounter divorce. Divorce certainly is stressful and a bad things for anyone, but men were really able to improve their odds and ameliorating their risks by getting remarried after a divorce. That wasn’t really so much the case for women.” ~ Leslie Martin

Both deeply fascinating and remarkably readable, The Longevity Project is essentially a pop culture mythbuster that offers compelling and counter-intuitive insight into the art and science of being our best selves for the longest possible time.

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