Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tip #32: Appreciate your family

My parents
My parents circa 1958
I am spending two weeks in Spain, visiting my family, and I was able to sneak in this picture of my parents, Obdulio and Enriqueta. Just looking at it, makes me happy. And I should, because I owe them much more than bringing me to this world. According to a study from 1997 called the Harvard Mastery of Stress, a big percentage of my well being and health (yes, strangely enough I do consider myself very healthy) may be because of them. In that study, a group of Harvard students in 1950 (a little before that picture was taken) were asked about their feelings for their parents using some of these words: Just, Fair, Loving, Strong, Clever, and Hardworking (positive) and Severe, Stingy, Brutal, Mean, Punished, and Nervous (negative). They followed up with those students 35 years later. The results were very interesting: Only 25% of subjects with high positive perceptions of both mothers and fathers were sick in midlife, whereas 87% of subjects with low positive perceptions of both mothers and fathers were sick in midlife. The authors also tell us:

The approximately 60% difference in sickness rates observed between subjects who rated their mothers and fathers both high in caring vs. subjects who rated their mothers and fathers both low in caring was replicated when the data were analyzed separately in anger in/out subjects (13% vs. 75%) and severe anxiety subjects (40% vs. 100%).
And if you had lousy parents, don't fret. Blame them for your current ills, but also know that present ties are also crucial. I also read recently about another study which shows that family relationships bring greater happiness than income. Money is important, but after you have reached a certain income, it is the quality of family relationship that matter. And I think, from my experience living abroad, that "family" can also be a broad term. I have many friends in the US that, although not technically my family, I would consider them as such. They definitely have my back.

And, lastly, in the book The Blue Zones, Lessons From Living Longer From The People Who've Lived The Longest, one of the common traits in these groups of people is that family is put ahead of other concerns. The author, Dan Buettner, also has a ver informative TED talk, How to live to be 100+, about this and other factors that contribute to longevity and well being.

What do you think? Lots of love from sunny (and very hot) Spain.


  1. Hola Pilar! Hace calor?! Esta foto de tus padres tiene valor (it's precious!). Gracias por compartirla. Iban de "cruise"? Que sabiduria (y ademas ciencia) lo del valor de la familia fuerte y carinosa. Amen! as my father would say.

  2. Que bonito, poner tus padres en el blog de nuevo, como senal de tus vacaciones y de tu vuelta a la querida Espana. (Perdona el pobre espanol mio, sin ningun esfuerzo al rigor gramatico esta manana.)

    Feliz Navidad a los Munday, y a toda la familia en Espana! Y Feliz Ano Nuevo, lleno de salud, prosperidad, amor y paz :)