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A Good Life Is...

Patricia Sullivan

What makes a life a good life? Is it career success, monetary wealth, power? Is it winning the race, winning the woman or man, winning at any of the jousts that life offers? Or is it simply enjoying fulfilling relationships?

The Atlantic magazine's June issue had a cover story headlined "What Makes Us Happy?" that should be of interest to obituary readers. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running--and probably the most exhaustive--longitudinal studies of mental and physical well-being in history, has been following its male subjects for more than 70 years.

The subjects are a pretty small slice of Americans -- men are the minority gender, and Harvard, at least in 1937, was not exactly an inclusive group -- so we don't know if their experiences extrapolate to the rest of us. But it's a fascinating glimpse of those who were groomed for success, what they did with all those benefits and what, in the end, they learned.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  July 20, 2009; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan  
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