I was listening to the radio on the way home the other evening and Gladys Knight happened to be singing, "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me". I have always enjoyed that song, especially, the way she sang it. What a thought provoker: I have had so many best
things happen to me that if I could share, where would I start, and how long would my list be? Can the best things include events, as well as things, and especially people? The thought occurred to me that making such a list would be a great way to start writing a personal history.
Verse two of the song states that; "If anyone should ever write my life story. For whatever reason there might be." Gladys should change the verse to say; "If ever I should write my life story, For whatever reasons there might be". If all of the personal histories that have ever been written were analyzed would the 'best things' described in those histories be primarily 'things' and 'events' or would the best things be described as the people that found their way in and out of our lives? My guess would be 'people' and the following study confirms that.
One of the most comprehensive long term research studies ever conducted began at Harvard in the late nineteen thirties. There were 268 men who entered college that year and this study followed those men for 72 years through wars, careers, sickness, health, marriage, parenthood, grandparenthood, and old age. The primary researcher was Dr. George Vaillant, a man who essentially devoted his life to keeping the project alive. The men in this study illuminate the one single factor that correlated most highly with a positive life assessment in old age. This factor came out while Dr. Vaillant was being interviewed in 2008 in respect to a question about what he had learned from the men in the study. He said that the most important thing that he had learned is that: "The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people." It merely confirmed what the oldest and the wisest people among us have always known.
The most successful life is not based on what we get or have. The most significant moments were births, deaths, weddings, family celebrations and associations. Our most profound moments are when we touch others, or when they have touched us during times of suffering, loss, sickness, or death as well as times of happiness and joy. A satisfactory life is about human connections: parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, neighbors and mentors. Without them, life loses its flavor; lasting satisfaction with one's life is rare outside of meaningful human relations.
You and I are in a profession that allows us to meet many people, most of them on an intimate basis as we get to know them in the course of our work. You provide a service and a solution to the financial challenges of living and dying, yes. But you also learn from them and expand your life skills, your compassion for them and thus your circle of friends. At the same time you make an impression on those you meet. Do you know how your relationship enhances their life? What a unique and special work it is that you have chosen as a career.
All good things require your attention and sustaining effort to remain viable and helpful to your clients and friends now and into the future. That is one reason for belonging to NAIFA and contributing your time and resources to advocating for the value NAIFA brings to the marketplace, to your world. I urge you to maintain your membership in NAIFA, the premier organization for professional insurance and financial advisors. And I urge you to support the advocacy effort by contributing to the top political action committee, IFAPAC. If you are on the monthly bank draft, carry on. If you contribute annually, now is the time to send that check. Thank you for your support.
Richard Ek, LUTCF
NAIFA WA IFAPAC Co-Chair