Boston University issued the following news release:

Researchers identify personality traits

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s (BUSM) New
England Centenarian Study have noted specific personality traits
associated with healthy aging and longevity amongst the children of
centenarians. The work was conducted in collaboration with scientists
from the National Institute on Aging. These findings currently appear on-
line in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Previous research on siblings and offspring of centenarians have
documented that exceptional longevity runs strongly in families. Studies
of the offspring of centenarians showed that their mortality is 120
percent lower than other members of their birth cohort and that they
also have markedly lower prevalence rates and delayed onsets of
cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. Because
personality traits have been shown to have substantial heritable
components, the researchers hypothesized that certain personality
features may be important to the healthy aging observed in the offspring
of centenarians.

Using the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) questionnaire, measures of
the personality traits for neuroticism, extraversion, openness,
agreeableness, and conscientiousness were obtained from 246 (125 women
and 121 men) unrelated offspring of centenarians with an average age of 75.

Both the male and female offspring of centenarians scored in the low
range of published norms for neuroticism and in the high range for
extraversion. The women also scored comparatively high in agreeableness.
Otherwise, both sexes scored within normal range for conscientiousness
and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness.

According to the researchers, personality traits in the offspring of
centenarians appear to have distinctive characteristics that may have
important implications for their longevity. “Interestingly, whereas men
and women generally differ substantially in their personality
characteristics, the male and female offspring tended to be similar,
which speaks to the importance of these traits, irrespective of gender,
for health aging and longevity.

It’s likely that the low neuroticism and higher extraversion will confer
health benefits for these subjects,” said senior author Thomas Perls,
MD, MPH, director of the New England Centenarian Study. “For example,
people who are lower in neuroticism are able to manage or regulate
stressful situations more effectively than those with higher neuroticism
levels. Similarly, high extraversion levels have been associated with
establishing friendships and looking after yourself,” he said.

Perl’s added, “These findings suggest that personality is an important
characteristic to include in studies that assess genetic and
environmental determinants of longevity. Such studies are currently underway.”

This study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute
on Aging (NIA): K-24, AG025727 (TP), K23 AG026754 (Paul Beeson Physician
Faculty Scholar in Aging Award, DT), and the Intramural Research Program
of the NIA.


Of course, this makes one wonder how much we can either a) modify extraversion and neuroticism, or b) find other ways to get the benefits that these traits bring us. Maybe introverts can further develop close and abiding friendships and the joy and fun that comes with these whether you are extravert or not. And people who are prone to anxiety and distress (neuroticism) can learn to find their center?    BG

“If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessings in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love; rather, we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.” John O’Donohue

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.

So much is asked of parents, and so little is given.

The recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.

We can learn something new anytime we believe we can.

We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.

What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.

– quotes from Virginia Satir –

“I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”

– Virginia Satir –


No Boundaries

Clear Boundaries

Rigid Boundaries

No differentiation between self and other Able to attain intimacy; interdependency Uses “walls” to protect self
Trouble recognizing own or other’s abuse Does not tolerate abuse of any kind Cannot attain intimacy
Difficulty saying “no” or protecting self Does not violate other’s rights and boundaries Cannot allow self to be vulnerable
Doesn’t acknowledge other’s boundaries Takes responsibility for own behaviour and feelings May use anger to distance people
Can be both victim and/or offender Entitled, assertive response to life Strong need to be right; argumentative
Blames others; trouble taking responsibility Maintains sense of self in relationship Aggressive response to life
Passive response to life. Feelings of shame and inadequacy Feeling of confidence and worthiness Feelings of shame and inadequacy
Lacking respect for self or other Respect for self and other Lacking respect for self or other

Damaged Boundary System

  • can at times or with some people say no and set limits; at other times or with some individuals is powerless to say no
  • can sometimes set boundaries except when sick or tired
  • may become offenders; may control and manipulate others
  • may take responsibility for other people’s behaviour, feelings and thinking
  • difficulty recognizing, respecting and modeling healthy boundaries with and for children
  • may vacillate between no boundaries and rigid boundaries
  • may have passive-aggressive response to life.
  • feeling of shame triggered in some situations or by certain people.

Courtesy of Arla Sinclair

The Five Freedoms
By Virginia Satir

What is here,
Instead of what should be,
Was, or will be

What one feels and thinks
Instead of what one should

What one feels,
Instead of what one ought

For what one wants,
Instead of always waiting
For permission

In one’s own behalf,
Instead of choosing to be
Only “secure”
And not rocking the boat

A Violinist in the Metro

From The Effective Club

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the hat and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?