George Valliant and Beautiful Diversity

Online or on news stands you can now read “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Shenk in The Atlantic . Today, both David Brooks in the New York Times and Shenk of The Atlantic talk about this amazing longitudinal study of 268 Harvard men begun in 1937, that I and many others have been aware of for many years. George Valliant is still at work on this vital project. The study is a great example of the futility of theory as applied to all people. The miracle of this study as far as I am concerned is that there is no easy predictor of happiness. Individual male participants have years of happiness and years of great depression. Intimacy is claimed to be vital and yet the same men divorce repeatedly. Some men die while drunk and others die surrounded by loved ones after suffering from mental illness for years. Valliant’s own father committed suicide. As far as I am concerned all this fantastic research returns to the core competencies of great men as unique, humble and disciplined. I am reminded that I see coaching as a tool for each of us to strive toward humility and competence, while managing our individual demons, and celebrating our gifts and accomplishments.

Definitely read this study that spans over 70 years! What does it make you think about in your life?


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