what we know vs. who we are

On Monday evening I delivered my presentation on long-term thinking and sense of gratitude to the first-year students in the Mellon College of Science. First I described some long-term scientific experiments, culminating in the Grant and Glueck studies. On that slide I highlighted a quote from Robert Waldinger, the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development:

The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this:

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. 

After leading the students through an activity I created (Giving and Gratitude: An Exercise in Sweetness), we heard from a panel of four people who are significantly older than the students. The panel addressed the students’ questions they had written in response to the prompt

Imagine that you could send a message to your future self 50 years from now and receive a reply. What questions would you ask? That is, what life advice would you want to hear from your future self, about something you are going through right now or about anything you may need to decide over the next five decades?

Last month I enjoyed the company of Stuart Levine, my dear friend and former dean. At 87, Stuart said that he realized something new about teaching just in the past few years. The focus of education, he told me, is affection. When the students experience that among themselves, then you know the class is a success.

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