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Lions Roar : July 2017
Then Robert Waldinger became an internet star. It started with a TED talk called “The Good Life.” Waldinger expected to get only a few thousand views and was taken aback when the talk went viral. Coca-Cola was the first company to get in touch: Could Waldinger speak to executives in Romania in February? After that, interview and speaking requests quickly flooded his inbox. Clearly, this was not when most people would power down. But that’s what Waldinger did. With millions of viewers worldwide watching his talk, he took off for a three-week sesshin, a Zen retreat conducted largely in silence. Between studying Buddhism and the lives of the 724 men, Waldinger has learned a thing or two about what’s important in life—what creates happiness and what doesn’t. And rather than just knowing the secret to the good life, he is trying to take the knowledge to heart and really live it. That’s why Waldinger—at that intense moment in his career—stepped back to see what his intentions were. “I have as much ego as anybody,” he says. “When people are inviting you to do things and saying, ‘Oh! We really want to hear from you,’ it’s a strange and heady experience. How do you not believe your own press release? How do you do something that has meaning?” For Robert Waldinger, all the buzz meant one thing: It was time for quiet and reflection. Time for what really makes life worth living. THE HARVARD STUDY OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT began in 1938 as separate studies of very different populations. The first was focused on understanding healthy young adult devel- opment, so the researchers selected people they felt were the best and the brightest: a group of 268 sophomores at—sur- prise—Harvard. This cohort finished their studies during World War II and most went on to serve in the war. The second study was started at Harvard Law School by a law professor and his wife, who was a social worker. They wanted to understand why some disadvantaged children went PEOPLE IN SECURE RELATIONSHIPS • Are healthier overall • See less memory decline • Maintain sharper and more active minds into old age THE SCIENCE OF LOVE LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 36