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Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks

Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks

Sometimes life is kind of like a good movie - at first you don’t really know what’s going on, then after a while you start to see the big picture and things begin to make sense.

Our youngest child, Caroline, pictured second to the left, just turned 15, and her 19-year-old sister, Kathleen, pictured to her right, just left for college. They are blossoming into bright and beautiful young women. Still, Joan says she wouldn’t trade places with them for anything. I am often amused (or sometimes irritated) about how teenagers are so sure they already know everything. But you can’t teach wisdom, and sometimes we all have to learn the hard way.

Good judgment comes from experience. And experience, well that comes from bad judgment. Life is for learning, and we all make mistakes along our journey. We only truly fail when we don’t learn the lessons from our mistakes.

It’s taken me 58 years to understand the world and my role in it. Finally, I am at a point where I feel really grateful just to be alive, and I don’t plan to ride off into the sunset for quite a while yet.

Studies show that stress and anger peak in the early to mid-20s, and tend to decline steeply thereafter. Worry rises till our mid-40s and then begins to ease off. By about age 35 our sense of joie de vivre (joy for life) starts to wane, hitting rock bottom usually by about age 50.

But then miraculously, things start to look up, with our self-reported sense of well-being rising steadily through middle age. In fact, this mid-life enhancement in psychological well-being continues for the next few decades, typically sailing right on past Zeke Emanuel’s drop-dead age of 75, and often even beyond 85, until our health fails. Which brings us full circle back to my life’s passion - keeping you folks healthy and happy regardless of when you were born!!

In Good Health,

James O'Keefe, MD