Almost 80 years ago, a group of researchers at Harvard embarked on a research project that still continues today – one which has tracked the lives of 724 men and investigated their health (mental and physical), professional lives, as well as relationships.
In looking at the key factors in building a fulfilling, long life – this study has some surprising insights, which can help you appropriately invest your time and energy.
1 – Wealth, Fame, and Hard Work have Little Impact
So many of us get caught up in the rat race – pursuing success in the hopes of creating better more fulfilling lives, and supporting the people we love. A recent study asked millennials about their life goals – with 80% indicating wealth and 50% fame related goals. Metrics echoed by the study’s participants when they were of similar age, who said that they believed that wealth, fame and high achievement were key.
It’s been a topic that has been on my mind often, as of late – although my curiosity first was peaked back in 2015 during my Happiness Project, where I researched and implemented 12 life hacks to increase positivity and balance after some especially difficult personal setbacks.
During the project, I tried gratitude journaling, meditating, exercising, creating uplifting playlists, disconnecting from technology, prioritizing sleep, auditing my life, making time for passions, giving back, saying no (setting boundaries), as well as investing in meaningful connection.
Invest in 5 intentional relationships – a sense of connection with others has been shown to increase happiness. Take time to really consider the people in your life – your friends and family – and determine 5 key relationships. If you can’t think of 5, it’s time to get out there and meet them! Find ways to invest in these people often: carve time out of your day to ask and listen to them, organize dinner parties, arrange coffee dates, go on nature walks, tell them how much you appreciate sharing moments with them.
Marilyn Spink has spent her 30-year career in Engineering (working on projects in mining, pulp and paper industries, steelmaking operations, and consulting engineering). She has led and supported teams of professional engineers and designers to complete projects around the world. She is a licensed professional engineer and a member of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). In 2014, she was appointed by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor to Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and is currently Vice President Appointed. Spink is married to Jamie Gerson, also a professional engineer, who is extremely supportive of all her interests and a wonderful father to their three children.
What has been one of the most rewarding parts of your career?
Building stuff and helping people. It is rewarding to see your ideas become real and improve the lives of the people who use whatever you built, or grow from the advice you have provided to them. I am always learning, but the more I learn the more I realize don’t know. My learning is mostly about self-discovery these days. I need to speak less and listen more!
With only 11% of Professional Engineers in Ontario being women, what unique value do you think the female perspective brings to solving Engineering problems?
Women are socialized differently than men. The unique value women bring to solving Engineering problems is simply a different perspective – period. A bunch of similar people (age, race, gender, backgrounds) speaking & working with one another hinders Continue reading
I visited our old stomping grounds: paths we have hiked a hundred times. Fall leaves expressing everything I still cannot find the words to say, on how to celebrate endings.
Mourning you was never something I embraced, opting rather to be reborn in the novelty of different surroundings. Places that did not have you – my nature loving, adventure seeking, exotic car driving, silent but strong lover – painted all over them.
But it’s been almost a decade now, and I want my forests back, to bathe myself in their brilliance and healing once again. So bundle up for the inevitable winter, love, because I sense this spring is going to be positively exquisite.
It’s not easy, is it? Letting go of things, even if they aren’t good for us. There is a strange comfort in what we have become used to – whether that be clutter or emotional stresses – despite their toxicity.
I know that a house with less ‘stuff’ is what I ultimately want, but yet I still struggle with letting go of certain items(especially those with sentimental value). Equally so, I know I want a life where I prioritize the most positive and uplifting relationships, but I have struggled with setting boundaries and learning how to say ‘no’ in order to have the freedom to say ‘yes’ where and when it counts.
Healthy boundaries are not walls. They are gates and fences that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your own garden. – Lydia Hall
Every year, I take on a challenge. Something that gets me closer to living a life inline with my values. It allows me to focus on one thing – and usually see some significant strides in that area – rather than tackling everything at once.
This past year, I completed a STUFF Project. It included going through all of the things in my condo and storage. Piece by piece. I would be lying if I said that it was easy, took only a couple of weekends, or that I enjoyed the process. It was quite stressful, as I thrive in clean and uncluttered spaces, and the process involved ripping apart well hidden pockets of forgotten items in boxes/bins/drawers and the resulting boxes piled up in the hallways.
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint–Exupery
It made me realize how many things I still have, and how much work could be done to simplify my life. That’s why this year, I want to take an even deeper look at how I got here in the first place. Continue reading
As the end of the year quickly approaches, I have realized that my goal of reducing my STUFF is far from complete. At the start of the year I was giddy with enthusiasm, reading great resources, tackling small projects, but the energy quickly dissipated.
As I spend the largest percentage of time in my bedroom, I figured it would be the best area to begin. Over the past few weeks, I have gone through absolutely everything in my room – from boxes to books, cosmetics to art, you name it!
Creating room in my bedroom has created room in my mind.