‘Always certain, often wrong’ – how does who we are impact how we age?

     NewsWorks digital artist-in-residence Tony Auth (left) with friend, businessman and author Reese Palley. (Todd Vachon/WHYY)

    NewsWorks digital artist-in-residence Tony Auth (left) with friend, businessman and author Reese Palley. (Todd Vachon/WHYY)

    How does who we are impact how we age? Psychologists believe that certain traits contribute to happy aging — optimism, a sense of humor, generosity of spirit and so on.

    NewsWorks digital artist-in-residence Tony Auth discussed the role of personality in happy aging with his friend Reese Palley, who turned 90 this year. Palley, a very successful businessman in Atlantic City, made millions in a risky real estate deal as the city emerged as a mecca for gambling, and decided to quit his job and his life. Palley went to sail the world for 18 years.

    Now he mostly focuses on his writing, and continues to write about a book a year. His topics vary greatly. He has examined the history of concrete and the future of nuclear energy.

    In this conversation with Auth, Palley says his most defining characteristic is his “intense desire to be part of the action,” which has kept him engaged with the world around him. His motto is “always certain, often wrong” — he’d rather try something than worry about the consequences. He admits he has been wrong many, many times, but focuses on the times when he has been right, and what he has learned from his mistakes.

    Palley says the quote he lives by comes from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

    “I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived,” Holmes said.

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