Home Pharos Fiction Site Map Updates Search


                                                                                                                        Back Next

Halexandria Foundation
Sacred Mathematics
Connective Physics
Chronicles of Earth
Justice, Order, and Law
Extraterrestrial Life
Creating Reality
Tree of Life

Stress and Longevity

Stress is an undesirable commodity -- if only because it’s not beneficial to wellness.  Thus it stands to reason that a reduction in stress in someone's life might lead to greater health, and thereby allow one to live longer.  It is also quite plausible that having more money leads to less stress.  Forbes Magazine, <http://www.forbes.com/2002/09/13/longlives400.html>, ostensibly one of the more authoritative voices with respect to “more money” reported [September 13, 2002] the apparent connection between wealth (i.e. less stress) and longevity.   

In an article by Matthew Herper, “Why the Rich Live Longer,” stress is tied to a lack of success, and thus the more successful one is, the less stress, and thus the longer they are likely to live.  Basically, the idea is that “wealth and success... stave off death.  In fact, the strain of not getting them may be what kills us.”  [emphasis added]  

Prior research -- lots of it -- has suggested that “those who are higher on the social and economic food chain are also blessed with longer lives.  Moreover, many researchers are beginning to reject theories that explain away the difference by noting that those with more money can afford better lives, including better housing, food and health care. Instead, many are turning to a psychological explanation:  stress.”  

On the one hand, the poor have less access to health care.  Waiting for hours in an ER -- as opposed to being rushed in -- is obviously important; and the difference is often the possession or lack thereof of wealth and adequate insurance (the latter being available more to the rich than the poor).  But such thinking is becoming suspect.  It’s not just the money to pay for medical care, but one’s social and economic position which directly affects susceptibility to any number of diseases, and ultimately the length of lives.  

The evidence began accumulating twenty years ago with a British medical survey of civil servants called the Whitehall Study.  Inasmuch as the people in the study had access to universal medical care and none were impoverished, the surprise was that there was a substantial difference between the life spans of junior and senior employees. Those who made more money, or who had attained higher rank, lived substantially longer.  

The key factor in the study seemed to be success, and the wealth it caused.  The richer lived longer, and the richer they were, the longer they lived.  But more importantly was the relative wealth or success that the rich were enjoying.  In the United States, while rich states have twice the wealth as others, they don’t have better health overall.  But within each state, the richest people seem to live longer than the poorest.  In other words, relative economic rank is what matters in determining how long we live.  

From Forbes point of view, success -- the accumulation of wealth (not merely possession of wealth) -- is what’s good for you.  In this regard, one study showed that “Academy Award winners live nearly four years longer than actors who were nominated for an award but lost.”  Clearly, anyone nominated is honored, but relatively speaking...

Herper goes on to note that such comparisons of humans can be statistically questionable, and that the better evidence comes from experiments done on monkeys. Macaques, for example, organize themselves into social groups where it is relatively clear which monkeys are dominant and which are submissive.  Guess what?  The dominant monkeys live longer, even when access to resources is controlled. Curiously, “if monkeys were forced to change their position in the hierarchy, they all died early. The stress of the change was too much for them -- and that was enough to have a large impact on their health.”  

[One might wonder why the experiments were not done on rats, inasmuch as it’s the rat race that’s relevant in most monied circles?  Of course, according to Lily Tomlin, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.  So perhaps, the monkeys will do, after all.]  

One key factor in the rich live longer theory is that “how we feel about our social and economic status has as great an impact on our health as the latest breakthrough treatment or blockbuster drug.  Those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder suffer the least, simply because they are wealthy and they know it.  The trend holds true not only for mortality, but also for all but a handful of diseases, including some that cannot be prevented, treated or cured.”  Those on the lower rungs have less to live for?  

Traditionally, the argument against the theory is that it’s not about how people feel, but what their lives are like.  This is, in effect, a reversion to Scapegoatology.  No one wants to admit to their ability to choose how they feel, and instead want to limit their personal responsibility to how externals have influenced their lives.  In other words, barn carpeting!  What the Forbes article did not consider, was the degree to which each of the successful and unsuccessful were Creating Reality in their own ways and in their own lives.  

Success -- however one defines it -- is feeling good about an accomplishment.  It is the ultimate in Creating Reality, in that one feels good because, in large part, one feels good about themselves.  Relative success -- particularly in the local context, where one can see the extent of their success in comparison to others -- provides one with the sense of having done well, and thus give one permission to feel well, and thus actually live well -- and living well is well-connected to living longer.  

Contrawise, for those who are not successful -- relatively speaking, with others within their frame of reference, i.e. anyone in “sight” -- then there is the result of not feeling well.  And with our ever increasing ability to see the success of the most successful individuals throughout the world (“lives of the rich and famous”), the greater our ability to see our comparative failings.  In large part, the problem is in defining success on the basis of what we perceive (or what we’re told) are the “very successful people”.  The idea that we can be as lucky, skillful, well-connected (family or friend) is not the comparison we make, but is nonetheless the standard by which we measure our worth.

Creating Reality, therefore, behooves us to establish what is truly worthwhile, what does not depend upon the luck of the draw, and what instead depends upon the qualities over which we truly have free will.  In other words, we can choose compassion, love of our fellow human being, thoughtfulness and consideration, and in this endeavor, we have the ultimate in equal opportunity.  Anyone and everyone can choose compassion.  Meanwhile, love is readily available by simple choice, and it pays dividends which know no limits.  Love is decidedly not one of those Zero Sum Games.  (I.e., No one has to give up love for someone else to gain it.)  

If, on the other hand, we choose the amount of money in the bank, or the number of business deals consummated -- shady or otherwise -- as the criteria for our success, then clearly the person born with wealth and/or connections has a tremendous headstart.  Half the time, the others are not even in the running.  And luck being luck, nothing within the range of our free will allows for our establishing a more equal starting line.  The latter criteria is thus a crap shoot in terms of success.  And when we view ourselves as not being relatively successful -- i.e. compared to others -- then the strain decreases our longevity.  

Fundamentally, we must remember that: 

Compassion is an Equal Opportunity Enjoyable.  

Therefore, in summary, Go for the Gold [en Rule]!  And thereby, “Live long and prosper.”  

Life Vehicles         Health and Responsibility         Mental Health

Or forward to:


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder         The Play: P.T.S.D.

Therapists         Suicide and Homicide Rates         Laughter



                                                                                      The Library of ialexandriah       

2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved                     [Feedback]    

                                                                                                            Back Next