Here are four habits that longevity experts say are at the heart of a sunny disposition—and that you
can adopt, too.
1. THEY WORK THEIR CELL PHONES
Perhaps your neighborhood gossip is on to something: All that chitchat keeps her plugged into a
thriving social network—and people who socialize at least once a week are more likely to live longer,
keep their brains sharp, and prevent heart attacks. One reason: “Just talking on the phone to a friend
has the immediate effect of lowering your blood pressure and cortisol levels,” says Teresa Seeman,
PhD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA.
“Our research shows that having good long-term relationships provides as many physical benefits as
being active or a nonsmoker.” Make the effort to connect with the friends you already have. Call now,
and before you hang up, schedule a lunch date—personal contact is even better.
2. THEY EXPRESS GRATITUDE (WITHIN REASON)
Buoy your spirits by recording happy events on paper, your computer, or a PDA. People who write
about all the things they are thankful for are optimistic about the upcoming week and more satisfied
overall with their lives, according to a University of California, Davis, study. They also feel physically
“It’s hard to be bitter and mad when you’re feeling grateful,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, author of
the upcoming book, “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.” But
don’t overdo it. Women who kept a gratitude journal only once a week got a bigger boost in
happiness than those asked to record their good fortune three times a week. Find the frequency that
works for you – giving thanks shouldn’t feel like a chore.
3. THEY’RE RANDOMLY KIND
Do you perform five acts of kindness in any given day? That’s the number of good deeds that boosts
your sense of well-being and happiness, according to research by Lyubomirsky. Your karmic acts can
be minor and unplanned – giving up your seat on the bus; buying an extra latte to give to a
coworker. You’ll find that the payback greatly exceeds the effort. “You see how much you’re
appreciated and liked by others,” she says. Be sure to keep up the good work: When Lyubomirsky
asked her study subjects to space their five good deeds over the course of a week, the actions
started to seem routine and lost some of their therapeutic effects. But don’t fret if you can’t make the
quota daily. “Being spontaneously kind also delivers rewards,” she says.
4. THEY REAPPRAISE THEIR LIVES
Yes, you can rewrite history—and feel better about yourself in the bargain. Set aside a little time
each week to write about or record—or even just mentally revisit—an important event in your past.
Reflecting on the experience can reshape your perception of it, as well as your expectations for the
future, says Robert N. Butler, MD, president of the International Longevity Center-USA in New York
City. When creating this “life review,” you get to list all your accomplishments—an instant self-esteem
booster. Organize your historical review by epochs: your postcollege years, early marriage, career,
motherhood. Subdivide each section into triumphs, missteps, and lessons for the future.
It’s helpful to look at the bad times as well as the good. Perhaps now that a few years have passed,
you’ll be able to see how that breakup or failed job opportunity opened other doors and finally
forgive yourself—and your ex-boyfriend or would-be boss. “Even if a memory is painful, it’s good to
work through it,” says Butler. “If you can come to terms with past events, you’ll be better able to
handle tough times down the road.” So be honest, but also go easy on yourself. Remember: You are
the heroine in this tale.
The Best Kind of Pessimist
If you’re an irritable sort who thinks of your eternally cheery neighbor as a delusional Pollyanna, are
you doomed to poor health? Not if you’re an active pessimist, a feisty spirit who loves to complain,
criticize, and generally mix it up with others—but then takes action. “Active pessimists do battle with
life. Being that engaged is actually good for them and can provide some of the same benefits that
optimists enjoy,” says Toni Antonucci, PhD, director of the Life Course Development Program of the
Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
Bigger isn’t necessarily best when it comes to quality of life. In a Gallup survey released this week of the U.S. cities rated highest for overall well-being
, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago all failed
to crack the top 50. By contrast, nine of the top 10 spots in the survey went to mid-size cities, with the Boulder, Colorado metro area grabbing the top overall spot. The only big city that cracked the top 10 was the Washington, D.C. area.
Where to get your happy on:
The 10 Happiest Cities (Overall Ranking)
1. Boulder, CO
2. Lincoln, NE
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
4. Provo-Orem, UT
5. Honolulu, HI
6. Madison, WI
7. Cedar Rapids, IA
8. Gainesville, FL
9. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
At the other end of the spectrum, among the 188 metropolitan areas Gallup focused on, these regions turned up the least-contented residents:
The 10 Saddest Cities in America
179. Utica-Rome, NY
180. Prescott, AZ
181. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ
182. Spartanburg, SC
183. Hickory-Lenoir- Morganton, NC
184. Fort Smith, AR-OK
185. Redding, CA
186.Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
187. Youngstown-Warren- Boardman, OH-PA
188. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
Here’s how the rankings went among the largest cities in the country, defined as being those with one million or more residents (for the record, among the country’s biggest metro areas, Los Angeles grabs bragging rights at 62nd overall, followed by Chicago at 80th, and the New York metro area at 90th).
The 10 Happiest Large Cities
1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
2. Austin-Round Rock, TX
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
6. Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
7. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
8. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
9. Raleigh-Cary, NC
10. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
And for good measure, here are the rankings for the smallest cities in the country, defined as those with less than 300,000 residents.
The 10 Happiest Small Cities
1. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
2. Olympia, WA
3. Bellingham, WA
4. Bremerton-Silverdale, WA
5. Topeka, KS
6. Barnstable Town, MA
7. Charlottesville, VA
8. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA
9. Medford, OR
10. Amarillo, TX
How You Doin’?
To come up with its rankings, Gallup conducted daily interviews throughout 2010 with a total of 352,840 Americans (about 1,000 interviews a day), and asked them a series of questions grouped into six broad categories:
- Life Evaluation. The big question here was to rate your current life on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best) and then imagine your life five years out and give another rating. (Honolulu was #1 in this category.)
- Physical Health: Respondents were asked to weigh in on whether they had any health issues that prevented them from doing any age-appropriate stuff and how many days over the past month had they been ill enough that it messed up their plans . They were also queried on current physical ailments — such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart conditions — and whether they had a cranky neck, back, knee, or leg in the past year that had caused chronic pain. (Boulder was #1 in this category)
- Healthy Behavior: The usual suspects here: the survey asked about cigarette smoking, the number of weekly workouts (at least 30 minutes long), and how many days out of the week respondents managed to eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies. (Salinas, CA — think Monterey/Carmel — was #1 in this category)
- Emotional. Questions included: Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? (the survey did not provide breakout data on respondents with teenage kids), did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?, and did you learn or do something interesting yesterday? (Honolulu was #1 in this category)
- Work: Among the questions in this section: Are you satisfied/dissatisfied with your job?, do you get to use your strengths so you can do what you do best?, does your supervisor behave like a boss or a partner?, and does your supervisor create a trusting and open work environment?(Gainesville, Fla was #1 in this category.)
- Basic Access. This section was a bit of the kitchen sink variety. Medical-related questions included whether respondents had been to a dentist in the past year, have a personal doctor, and have health insurance. It also included a series of questions about general satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the city/region, the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and how safe it feels to walk alone at night. (Holland-Grand Haven, Mich. was #1 in this category.)
Administrative History of Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers
The Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (CFSNC) was founded at Hull-House in 1894 by representatives from Hull-House, Northwestern University Settlement, Maxwell Street Settlement, University of Chicago Settlement, Epworth House and Chicago Commons. The Federation brought together settlement workers, social work professionals, and supporters of the settlement house movement from all around the City of Chicago. As part of its mission, the CFSNC provided settlement workers with a forum to share objectives and ideas, organized and conducted studies of local economic conditions, planned charitable events, coordinated activities of area settlements, and cooperated with outside social service agencies.
From 1894-1921, the Federation grew to include thirty-six members and opened an office in downtown Chicago. In 1922, the Chicago Federation of Settlements was incorporated by the State of Illinois. The charter named six prominent Chicago settlement workers as directors: Jane Addams, Hull-House; Harriet E. Vittum, Northwestern University Settlement; Lea D. Taylor, Chicago Commons; Ruth Austin, Gad’s Hill Center; Mrs. Beryl T. Gould, House of Happiness; and Winifred Salisbury. The enumerated objectives of the Federation were: “to act as a clearing house for information about settlements and their work; a placement bureau for settlement workers; to provide information and advice regarding training and to co-ordinate the activities of the settlement houses of the City of Chicago.”
The bulk of the CFSNC Collection chronicles the years between 1961-1980 during the Executive Directorship of Clarence W. Boebel. During Boebel’s tenure the CFSNC expanded the national Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, founded pre-Kindergarten education programs (i.e. Head Start and Day Care), and created the United Settlement Appeal as a fund-raising mechanism for social service agencies. The CFSNC also cooperated with outside social service agencies such as the National Federation of Settlement and Neighborhood Centers, Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, the Model Cities project, and the Illinois Commission on Children.
Though the Federation served as an umbrella organization for the settlement movement, Boebel’s leadership style privileged local autonomy over centralized decision-making. In 1980, Boebel reflected on his career and the necessity for social workers to continue to settle in Chicago’s lower-income neighborhoods. Boebel instructed the next generation of social workers: “The only [approach] that really worked was the simplest one. That was: regardless of your culture or ethnic differences, you settled in the neighborhood and said – What is it we can do together?”
Supporting Boebel was a cadre of staff including: Mary De Johnette, Director of Education services; Gladys Hilton, Coordinator of Social Action; Mattie Wright, Director of Finance, and Althea Murray, Director of the summer youth employment program. Hilton served as Director of the Social Education and Action committee (SEA) that lobbied state and city legislators to improve child care and welfare policymaking. De Johnette helped found Head Start and Day Care programs in Chicago in the early 1960s. In 1980, De Johnette replaced Boebel as Executive Director of the CFSNC.
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Scope and Contents
This collection reflects the history, activity, leadership, and mission of the CFSNC and its relationship with outside service agencies, government bodies, and the public. The bulk of the collection consists of material about social work in Chicago between the years 1960-1980. The collection illustrates the CFSNC’s efforts to improve child care, education, housing, and access to health care in lower-income neighborhoods in the City of Chicago. The files contain correspondence, photographs, newsletters, articles, brochures, professional journals, newspaper clippings, legal publications, handbooks, meeting minutes, and annual reports.
The collection is divided into four series reflecting the administrative organization of the CFSNC. The committee file series illustrates the day-to-day operations of the CFSNC through meeting minutes, budget reports, and correspondence. The reference file series reveals the myriad community issues that Chicago social workers addressed from 1960-1980 and consists of reports, surveys, and studies conducted by local, state, and national social service agencies. The member agency series includes organizational records of over thirty Chicago settlements and neighborhood centers between the years 1950-1970. The member agency photograph series contains photographs of Chicago area settlements between the years 1905-1975.