We all want to live longer and healthier, but is longevity just a roll of the dice, or are there specific steps we can take to ensure we live longer?
Amazingly, I was walking down the street one day in the Spring of 2013 and right there laying on the street in front of me was an issue of National Geographic with the lead title “The Secrets Of Living Longer”.
The magazine was in fairly new condition, and didn’t look too filthy, so I couldn’t help but pick it up. It was an issue from November 2005 – printed over seven years ago!
What was this magazine doing, here, now, right there in front of me?
The 100+ Club
The article in National Geographic examined three areas in the developed world that have a significantly higher percentage of centenarians – people who live beyond 100.
The Sardinians live in high mountain villages in Italy. They attribute longevity to their close ties with extended family, and drinking moderate amounts of wine. They eat locally produced cheese which is apparently high in Omega 3s.
The Okinawas from Okinawa, Japan, believe it is important to understand your purpose in life, practice yoga, and eat a wide variety of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, along with fish as a source of protein.
The Adventists in Loma Linda, California believe spiritual and physical health go hand in hand. They also forbid consumption of pork, alcohol, smoking, and caffeine and one of the oldest women featured in the article takes a daily afternoon nap.
Based on the National Geographic article, longevity can be achieved through a variety of lifestyles, in a variety of locations, and stem from a variety of faiths, with no single “magic ingredient”. It is, however, interesting to note that not one of the centenarians mentioned having access to a good doctor or advanced medical care to be particularly important to their good health and longevity.
Healthy Relationships Equal A Healthy, Long Life
Apart from living a healthy lifestyle, one of the common themes that all of the groups studied seemed to possess were healthy personal relationships. The entire 100+ club seemed to have very strong support from their family, friends, religious and spiritual communities.
It is no secret that if we are feeling unbalanced by our relationships in life, it will cause stress, and stress depletes our life force.
The most effective way to make relationships healthy is through open communication, acceptance, and forgiveness. If you harbor feelings of jealousy, hate, anger, frustration, or resentment toward others in your life, these emotions literally seek “harbor” in your body, mind, and soul and will eventually manifest as a physical disease.
Re-balancing emotions can be difficult, because we are often not aware that we harbor negative emotions, or we become so angry and bitter that we cannot easily let go of them.
So the first step is to become aware of our negative emotions and recognize that they are only doing damage to ourselves.
Second, it is important to recognize that we can “let go” of negative emotions we harbor toward others if and when we choose to. This may require an open discussion with whomever it is we feel an imbalance, or, it may require us to go within ourselves and forgive ourselves for actions we have taken in the past that have left us feeling guilty, remorseful, or disappointed.
A third point to understand is that the emotional baggage we carry around is the result of past events. So the first thing we have to work on is letting go of the past and staying in the present. If we can rectify our current actions in the present and not create any additional negative emotional baggage for our future, we will have an easier time removing what has been done in the past.
Start improving your current relationships today, and by extension, improve your relationships of tomorrow, and you might find that by doing so you will feel better about the past. By improving your view of the future, you are taking the first step toward healing your past.
If you are still struggling with negative emotions or feelings, it can be helpful to get in touch with some sort of social support group. This could mean engaging in a sport or activity, a church, or some other social group that you can associate with positively. By finding a positive way to form new relationships, discuss problems, or simply let off steam, you can greatly improve your chances of a long, healthy life.
If you are not happy with some of your current relationships, think about changing who you interact with. It is not wrong for you to move on from relationships that no longer breed positivity in your life. It is OK to accept the lessons other people have taught you, forgive them, and move on.
Time Is A Social Agreement From Which You Can Opt Out
The less attention you give time, the less affect time will have on you. While we are taught to consider time in a linear format, in actuality, time is a function of our own thoughts and beliefs. For example, when you are in full enjoyment – watching a movie, playing an instrument, or dreaming, time can seem to fly by. Yet, when we are waiting for a light to turn green, it can often seem to take forever. I have a theory that people who are checking what time it is more frequently will not live as long as those who rarely check the time.
Even if you accept the idea of linear time as it applies to your life, the more you are enjoying life, and living life without any time restrictions being imposed on your conscious mind, your body will also be relieved of its dependence on time. If you can learn to limit the impact of linear time on your lifestyle by employing many of the themes and topics in this guide, you can in fact lengthen your life time.
Apart from food and diet, achieving longevity has a lot to do with the health of your personal relationships. Are you a member of a supportive community of family and friends? Do you admire and respect your co-workers? Are you fulfilled with your spousal relationship? How about your kids? Most relationships can be healed by practicing forgiveness and acceptance.
Examine your relationship with time. Do you feel like there is not enough time in a day? Is the clock “running you” or do you often forget what time or day it is? Can you start to let go of the importance of time?