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Buster Benson

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Best of 2009, #3) Article
bird poops on plum branch
What's an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you shared and referenced throughout the year.

It would definitely have to be this article:

What Makes Us Happy?
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.

This whole year I've been on a bit of a longitudinal study obsession, and it mostly started with this article. Studying people over time, on the scope of years and decades rather than hours and days is fascinating to me. Mostly because we can barely see the big picture while we're in it. This led me to the Up series of documentaries that has tracked the same 15 or so people over 5 decades, coming back every 7 years to interview them. It's also what inspires the 8:36pm project, and things like this "best of 2009" project.

Close second: How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect

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what did you take away from the Up series?

I loved it, while also sort of laughing at its generation gap and the bias of the documentarian. I think it's a work of art and despite its flaws shows something awe-inspiring and magnificent about life! Have you seen it?

I saw it a few years ago...the lack of class mobility that showed over the years made me a bit sad...but I liked it for what it was.

I looooove the Up Series! I was totally floored by the three upper crust boys that they interviewed together as children. They claimed they were reading the Wall Street Journal and playing stocks at the age of 7! And they all (predictably) grew up to be successful. I also liked the guy who grew up rich and ended up being a middle-class teacher. I LOVE that series. They're filming the next one right now!

i forgot how wonderful that article was!

i have been looking for an app to record my moods daily - health wise and mental wise. how tired i am, how good i feel, how happy i am etc.

if this doesn't exist could you create it? :)

I've been thinking of this app for a loooong time and keep changing my mind about what exactly it should be. There are some general-purpose mood-tracking apps out there (search for "mood" or "mood track" in the App Store), but they all fall short.

My favorite web app that works on iPhones is http://trackyourhappiness.org which I helped out for a couple months until I got overwhelmed with other things.

But, yeah, eventually!

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