The Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth: Tips for Living a Longer, Happier Life!

The topic of longevity and how we can live longer is extremely popular these days! There are many books written on this, and there are a multitude of articles and videos on it, as well. A Google search will pull up a plethora of information for those seeking the elixir of life, ranging from scientific studies to advice from octogenarians themselves! As you sift through the vast amount of information, it becomes apparent that the secret to longevity is really pretty basic. Live simply. Have good friends and relationships. Eat right. It turns out that the fountain of youth may be as close as your own back yard!

Following are some suggestions and tips on achieving a longer, happier life.

-Eat Simply. According to Aimee Hughes in an article she wrote for Life magazine, the majority of people across the world who live to be 100 years or older live by modest means. This means that they eat diets rich in plant-based food such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. Eating less in general is simply a good practice for all of us! The Okinawans have a special term (“Hara Hachi bu”) which means eating until one is 80% full. In this case, sometimes less IS more!

-Get and stay active. This is not referring to a heavy aerobic workout! Find something you enjoy and start doing it! According to scientists, low intensity activities such as walking, gardening, and swimming for leisure are actually more beneficial in the long run than intense gym activity.

-Pay attention to any health issues and follow your doctor’s orders. They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Stay on top of any chronic medical conditions you may have by following up with your doctor regularly and taking all medications as prescribed. Taking good care of yourself when you are sick just makes good sense!

-Find Purpose. This is actually one of the top predictors of longevity for people! Having a life purpose will make you happier and give you a reason to get up in the morning. Ask yourself these questions: “What do I really love?”, “What do I long to do?”, “How do I want to live?”. By asking yourself these questions, you can start living a longer, more satisfying life. Figure out ways to start now. Ask yourself what you’d love to do if anything were possible, then use your head to figure out ways to get there. No matter how small, take that first step in the direction of your dreams! You’ll be so glad you did!

-Have faith. According to Dr. Susan Baili, M.D. in an article she wrote for Psychology Today, there are endless studies that show the benefits of faith and spiritual practice on physical health, mental health, happiness, and longevity. Practicing regular mindfulness through prayer and /or meditation has been shown in studies to actually increase the activity of the enzyme telomerase which is related to aging!

In addition to the suggestions already offered in this article, there are other factors that can affect your longevity, too. For example, your personality may affect how long you will live. In the Longevity Project, one of the largest studies of its kind that spanned over eight decades, two Stanford researchers (Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin) found that CONSCIENTIOUSNESS beat out ALL other personality types when it came to living longer! Being a prudent, persistent, and well-organized person may very well help you achieve a longer life span! The reason for this is that conscientious behavior influences other behaviors. For example, it is assumed that conscientious people tend to make healthier choices including who they marry, where they work, etc., all of which can affect longevity.

Genetics can also play a role, as biological factors contribute to how long you will live. If your parents lived a long life, chances are you will too. Of course, this is no guarantee as other factors come into play, as well.

Another interesting factor cited in the Longevity Study is that education is correlated with a longer life. The premise behind this being the assumption that educated people tend to have better jobs, are more likely to plan for their future, and typically make healthier lifestyle choices.

In short, it is important to learn to listen to your body and mind in order to live a long and satisfying life. Drink water when you are thirsty. Eat good food when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Take a vacation when you need a break. Laugh and smile as often as you can, making it a daily habit. If you listen to your mind and body and heed their messages, you will be well on your way to a longer, happier life!