There’s a new best seller, ‘Triumphs of Experience,’ by George Vaillant a psychiatry professor from Harvard. It is the latest edition of a 50-year study of the lives of several hundred Harvard graduates. The goal was to track those traits which help shape the success or failure, happiness or disappointment of the 20th C American male.
It’s 457 well-researched pages, but here’s a one-page heart-on-my-sleeve review: Context is everything!
Our lives are lived within the context of concentric circles. Each moving out from our most personal circle or self to include our family, friends, community, nation, and world. The longer we live [these men are all in their 90s now] the more circles we have lived in. So we can’t help but learn to see our lives in greater and greater context. What was deemed at the time a great success, a terrible disaster, a new start, or another mistake can now be viewed from the context of all those years and lessons since then.
You can read the book and/or live into your 90s, but a simpler exercise may be available to you. When trying to judge the lasting merits of your marriage…your career…that last Notre Dame win…that recent campaign speech…or Monday morning’s decision by the Fed, remember to forget something ~
Try to forget THOSE moments and instead THIS moment. This next-day or next-year moment, because only from here can there make complete sense. And the more here’s you live, the more there’s you’ll be able to really understand.
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