TIME Healthland article published yesterday referred to an interesting study on the lifespan of U.S. presidents who died of natural causes and its link with status and stress.
- Image courtesy of Immortal Humans
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the average lifespan of men is under 40, but these presidents lived for an average of 73 years. Placed under the highest social rank and pressured under a lot of stress, it’s ironic that they preserved better health than the rest of the American population.
The correlation between social status and health remains consistent in scientific literature. Baboons that rank higher in their kingdom fared better over those at the bottom. Similarly, males who are lowest in social standing have high cholesterol and damaging stress hormone levels.
There’s no question about stress. It’s part of life and it’s unavoidable. However, studies have repeatedly shown that people who exert greater control over our jobs is linked with better health and are less susceptible to illnesses.
Interestingly enough, an earlier study published earlier this year concludes that “money leads to autonomy, but it does not add to well-being or happiness.” Researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington found consistent results that shows freedom and autonomy at a societal level are the best predictors of well-being.
Does this mean that all our search to earn a living mean a mere stepping stone toward something bigger: higher social standing, and/or personal success? Certainly, people who value monetary gains above these two are predisposed to poor health.
This brings us back to extrinsic motivation versus intrinsic motivation in life, including the daily tasks, with the latter one involving taking pleasure by the performing the task itself rather than working toward extrinsic outcome or reward, like money and grades. Yet both kinds of motivation requires a certain degree of self-control, which is understood now as a form of emotional intelligence, a potent predictor to personal health and well-being.
Which are you driven by – extrinsic or intrinsic motivation?