The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been working for the last 80 years to find out what makes an individual happy, and how to lead a healthy life.
I recently watched a TED Talk by Robert Waldinger on this topic, and it got me really interested. 80 odd years ago, the scientists at Harvard began tracking the health of 268 Harvard sophomores during the Great Depression. Out of those, only 19 still survive and they are all in their mid-90s. This is one of THE longest research happening in the world right now. The topic that they are researching on is so important, that I feel everyone should know the result obtained so far.
Money. Power. Status. Job Role. No, none of these help you lead a happy and healthy life. Good relationships – those are what matter at the end of the day (or, at the end of your life). Those are what help you feel sane when everything around you seems to crumble. This is what the study has discovered. If you are interested, you should definitely watch this TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KkKuTCFvzI
Looking back at the last 30 days, I vividly remember doing the following:
- Doing something that you never should – Overthinking.
I kept mulling over my past and future a lot. The concerns revolved about both professional and private life. Am I going behind job roles that I really want or just those I think would help me build my Resume? Did I say something wrong? Should I be the one to apologize first? Am I wasting too much time on things that don’t help me?
It’s good to be inquisitive and ask yourself these questions from time to time. But after a point, I found them extremely self-destructive. If your mind is a living room, start removing the clutters. The things and people that make you feel small. Take a paper and start listing out activities or people that truly make you happy, and focus on that. There’s just NO other solution.
During undergraduation, you know you have four years in your hand to build relationships and find ways to build your hard and soft skills. Graduate school is so short that I’m baffled to realize 1/3rd of my experience is over. There is so much going on all the time, you cannot be an all-rounder. No point of being one. In my opinion, here, the best lesson you can learn is how to streamline your time to only do the things you absolutely care about.
- More networking:
If you had read my previous post, you would remember my craze for networking. As December arrives, the number of interviews drop down exponentially and a kind of subtle dormancy begins to settle in. When you see recruiters becoming unresponsive, you subconsciously begin to decrease your effort. I fell into this trap too initially. Thankfully, there was one good day when I went all out and reached out to all of my unresponsive contacts in my excel sheet.
In hindsight, I’m very lucky that I did. Many of the leads that I have now came from there. You might think getting an interview call is the hardest part, until you realize half of the work lies on the other side of it.
- Catching up to deadlines:
There was a week where I had to wrap up two projects, complete a major assignment, prepare for one of the most important presentations and still learn to breathe. Looking back, it’s such an exhilarating feeling to be productive (disclaimer: being productive is very subjective though).
I realize now that the number of events that I attended went down significantly compared to the first month. You can only make sacrifices here, you just cannot make time. I remember having a conversation with this alumnus who concisely explained how grad life would be: “You have three pillars – Study, Sleep and Socialize. You can only be a master of two out of three.” The veracity of this statement is uncanny.
- A few beautiful memories
Snow. Oh, such beautiful snow.
This could be trivial to most people. But there’s something hauntingly beautiful about watching an aggregation of ice crystals sneakily falling upon everything around you.
The first day it started snowing, my roommate came rushing down screaming. We spent an hour going to the park and playing with it. I really hope I’m as excited about snow every single year from now.
The four seasons!
Look at the change that a tree undergoes in a span of one month – there’s something sad and unique about that.
Thanksgiving. Christmas. And the holiday period in general.
On the list of things I love about this country, one of the top would be the conducive nature of people, especially around holiday times. Holiday lunches, dinners, stress-relief puppy parties, midnight free pancakes are commonplace events around this time. I vividly remember the night we went to a magnificently decorate church for pancakes and cookies. The environment that I witnessed in that room that day – watching people huddle around tables, laughing, writing sweet messages on Christmas cards – can seldom be replicated again.
In just 8 more days, the University will be declared officially close for the winter. And in 16 more days, another year gone by. If every year was a book, we are in the last few pages. We should make it worth it.
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P.S. As always, a few funny (?) snaps.