Learn the secrets to a happy life

George Vaillant, director of the groundbreaking Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development, will appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at Glenbrook High School, 4000 W. Lake Avenue. His topic is “Happiness is Only the Cart: Love is the Horse.” Read the flyer here. This special event is free and open to the public.

Adult development is a lifelong process, one that continues even as the physical body fades. Why is it that some succeed with long-term love relationships? Why do some who endure traumatic childhoods recover and prosper? What leads to wise flourishing in old age, and what are the roles of temperament and environment?

Since 1938, the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development has studied two cohorts of men: the College Cohort consists of 268 men who attended Harvard College between 1938 and 1944, and the Inner City Cohort consists of 456 Boston junior high school students selected between 1940 and 1944. The study is the longest longitudinal biopsychosocial study of human development ever undertaken, and its goal is to identify predictors of healthy aging. The 724 study members have been assessed from adolescence until the ninth decade of life, with biopsychosocial questionnaires every two years, independent physical exams every five years, and in many cases personal interviews. The study is a rich motherlode of reporting on all aspects of male life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies and alcohol use.

George E. Vaillant, M.D., a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, was the Director of the grant study from 1970 to 2005, and he has written three books (1977, 2002, 2012) about its fascinating results. The results from the 76-year study are clear – happiness in life is achieved through the experience of loving and being loved. Men who had warm relationships with their mothers earn more than men whose mothers were uncaring, and are less likely to develop dementia. Those who were close with their fathers have lower rates of adult anxiety and increased life satisfaction after age 75. Character is not set in stone – people do change. The crush of a complicated and unhappy midlife can morph into a satisfying and rewarding old age.

This free event is sponsored by Family Action Network (FAN), in partnership with Character Counts! in Glenview, Glenview Education Foundation, Glenview School District 34, Glenbrook High School Parents’ Association and North Shore Country Day School.

FAN is grateful for the support of its 2014-15 annual sponsors Compass Health Center, Evanston Township High School D202, Josselyn Center, Make It Better, New Trier High School D203, Pathways.org, the Martin & Mary L. Boyer Foundation, the Mammel Foundation, and Tina & Byron Trottstrategic partners Evanston/Skokie D65, New Trier Parents’ Association, North Shore Community Bank, The Family Institute at Northwestern University, and Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.); and in-kind sponsors Acclaim Media, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Turing Group.

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