So here I sit, having a nine-year journal and minus one year of my life. This got me thinking about ways we can live longer and live healthier with the time we do have. And let me save you a little of the time you do have by sharing these Secrets of Longevity I've discovered by trolling the internet and reading articles by Forbes and NPR and USA Today.
First, the factors out of your control:
- Be a woman.
- Hail from Sardinia, Italy, or Okinawa, Japan, or that group of Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, who just go on and on.
- Get a spouse and then hang on to him/her. (Actually, this factor is somewhat in your control, but that's another topic altogether.)
- Come from a really great gene pool.
Now, the factors in your control:
- Incorporate activity in your daily routine (as I type this parked in front of the computer). Take the stairs. Don't hover for that super-close parking space at Bellevue Square, but rather take the one way out on the fringe of the lot. Do your own yard work. This Saturday I've already warned the kids that we're scrubbing down the deck so that no one slips to their slimy death on it.
- Eat more plants. That would be fruits and vegetables, in particular.
- Eat less. One "meal" at Maggiano's is actually more like three or four, or dinner and two lunches. Animals on restricted calorie diets live longer. Last time I looked, we were animals.
- Stop being so danged cheerful! According to researchers Friedman and Martin, "Cheerful and optimistic children are actually less likely to live long lives." Why? Because "by virtue of expecting good things to happen and feeling like nothing bad ever would, they predisposed themselves to be heavier drinkers, they tended to be smokers, and their hobbies were riskier." Yikes. Wipe that smile off your face.
- Be more conscientious. Yep, those folks who keep track of things and tend not to procrastinate or take the last donut from the box are the ones who live longest. Try Friedman and Martin's quiz, if you want to see how you score.
- And finally, be a friend. Don't wait for someone to reach out to you--reach out to them instead. Those social connections of family and friends and church lengthen life and strengthen life. Call that friend. Tell someone you love them. Give someone a hug (be careful on this one). Bring someone a meal or invite them to go on a walk. Join a book club!
All these tips are statistically speaking, of course, since your number might be up tomorrow. In which case you at least won't have to persevere in doing #1-6, so you've got that going for you. Which is nice.
Live long and prosper.