What If YOU Knew the Secret to Living Past 100?

During my seminars about healthy aging, I have often asked the participants to tell me how old they believe is old.  To my surprise, many have quickly shouted out ages somewhere in the mid-eighties as being old.  Statistics in the leading industrial countries seem to verify that it is typical for women to live into, perhaps, their eighties and men, a few perhaps to their mid-seventies.  Rarely do we hear that it is normal and expected to live into the nineties and beyond. 

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Science has been revealing to us the incredible power of our mind.  What we believe has a profound effect upon what happens in our life.  Our attitudes and beliefs affect our potential success in all aspects of life, including our health.  Believing you have the propensity to live to over 100 could very easily influence your current lifestyle. Believing, on the other hand, that you have  very little control and that your health and longevity is based upon your genetic predispositions, will probably cause you to be complacent and careless in your current lifestyle.  Knowing that what you do now can profoundly affect what happens to you later, can motivate you to take positive actions now.  But what are these positive actions that will lead to positive health?

 

The first person  to admit openly that he stays up late, sleeps late many mornings, enjoys time with family and friends, allows life to happen, and then writes in the evening is the famous author of the best selling book, The Alchemist, Paolo Cuello.  Listening to his words in a very special interview with best selling author and top-level marketing pro, Brendon Berchard, I felt relieved.  For more years than I can remember, I have always heard that it is essential to have a rigid, disciplined schedule for writing.  The model I have always been told is the “correct routine for successful living” is to go to sleep early, wake up early, do a certain amount of reading, meditating, exercise, a light breakfast, and then attack the most difficult task first at the start of your day.  Others have emphasized creating efficient, time saving practices to get more accomplished in the same amount of time.

 

  • To succeed in business and in life:  pressure, pressure, and more pressure;  systems, organization, and unchanging routine.
  • To improve your diet: avoid or severely cut down on your intake of fat, sugar, meat, dairy, coffee, salt, potatoes and other nightshade vegetables, wheat, gluten, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
  • To improve your overall fitness: exercise at least 4-5 times/week, at least 1/2 hour to 1 hour of intense aerobic exercise (bicycle, running, dancing, swimming,etc.), stretching, weight training, yoga, pilates, and martial arts,.
  • To create a healthy lifestyle:  lower your caloric intake, exercise regularly, go to sleep early and get 8 hours of sleep, get a solid education, work hard to succeed at work or in business and to support a family, make sure to spend quality time with friends and family, enjoy passionate frequent sexual and emotional intimacy with a partner, take several vacations every year, dress appropriately for your age and lifestyle, be altruistic and volunteer some of your time, make sure to find some time for leisure activities which fulfill you, and make sure you are following your life purpose.
  • To build a happy home life:  find the partner of your dreams, get rid of anyone who creates problems for you, communicate fully and openly with your intimate partner, avoid contact with all exes, avoid creating friendships online with members of the opposite sex, create a family with several children together, both parents contribute financially to the household, both parents contribute equally to the child rearing, one parent be a stay at home parent, discipline your children carefully without hitting them or yelling at them, encourage your children to become whatever they desire and help them to achieve their dreams,  and take care of your partner, your aging parents, and your partner’s aging parents – all the while sharing exciting, passionate, and intimate sexuality with your lifelong partner.
  • And now, technological advances have added an additional dimension to our lifestyles.  What was supposed to be a time saver, a way to alleviate pressures and to make our life easier, technology seems to have added a greater amount of stress and certainly a lot more distancing.  We have all seen couples and groups in restaurants and at parties texting instead of communicating with those who are present.

And what I have described above is the lifestyle prescription if we have our basic needs met – food, shelter, spouse or committed partner, financial security.  If we don’t have all these basic needs met, then we not only  have the above requirements, we have the additional stresses of not living up to the norm, feeling lonely and perhaps inadequate, and spending many of our waking hours struggling to create that successful job or business, relationship or family.

 

Is it any wonder so many of us do not make it past middle age in our stress-ridden, success oriented modern societies? NOW, compare the average Western lifestyle to that of those fortunate people living in the Blue Zones, those places with the greatest number of nonagenarians, centenarians and even super centenarians, around the world.

 

What Daniel Buettner, author of the Blue Zones, seems to be finding is that in those Blue Zones, there is a different societal norm.  They don’t decide they are “too old” no matter how old their chronological age is.  In his latest study about the Greek island, Ikaria, Daniel Buettner found that the inhabitants go to sleep late and wake up late.  I love the style of living in that society since I tend to get my best work done really late at night – when the phone calls and othe interruptions stop.  And the Ikarians do not rush to be any place at any given time.  Time is flexible.  Expectations are relaxed.  They work together as a society.  They share with each other.  They enjoy wine and bread, yes bread, together.  Oh, and they don’t get fat because they naturally eat healthy.  Everyone they associate with is eating healthy.  If they stop at a neighbor’s home, they will be fed natural and healthy food.  Yes, they drink coffee – 2 to 3 cups every day – Yeah!  They don’t worry about the caffeine.  They drink wine, a few glasses every day.  They don’t have to worry about DUI’s, jail terms for not “blowing” when the officer asks, or attending regular AA meetings.  They naturally have those types of open meetings at each other’s homes, daily.  They don’t have to worry about feeling isolated, alone and depressed because their neighbors and friends are there for support.

 

So now I am tuning a deaf ear to those success oriented preachers who advocate activities and lifestyles that preclude relaxation, living according to your natural rhythms, and enjoying your every day life experiences.  A nice hot delicious cup of coffee to start the day. Eating fresh home grown fruit and vegetables, free from chemical preservatives.   A cup of tea and some light conversation, some cookies and a bit of innocent gossip.  A glass of wine to unwind from the day and enjoy a relaxing, laughter-filled dinner with friends and family.  A leisurely walk with others – talking, dancing, singing and playing – often.  And then maybe, some time during the day, stopping by online to tell your social media friends what a wonderful day you’re having.

 

What if a whole group of us made a vow to start living this way.  Could we do it in our currently stress filled societies?  Maybe some of you already are.  Please share with me in the comments below.  I’d love to hear how you are living your life  now.

 

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Dr. Erica

2 comments

1 Sue Bride { 11.06.12 at 8:15 pm }

If you could manage all the “prescribed” lifestyle recommendations without stress no doubt you would live to a happy and ripe old age. Who can do this though? Very few I imagine. Stress seems to be the cause of so many illnesses and expecting yourself to be perfect, by trying to achieve all that you think you should be doing, one of the biggest causes of stress. When I stopped using the word “should” and accepted myself for what I am, warts and all, I started relaxing into life and became much happier and achieve more. Who wants to live into their 90’s if they are miserable anyway!
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2 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 11.06.12 at 9:20 pm }

Sue,

The “prescribed” lifestyle of those who have attained a ripe old age is not exactly what the media and the latest diet, nutrition and exercise “experts” say. The true lifestyle that leads to longevity is a sense of loving life, living each moment as fully as possible, keeping the body active, maintaining close friendships with family, neighbors and the community, having a strong spiritual sense that there is more to life than our immediate experiences, and eating many healthy natural vegetables and fruits.

There are people, such as the pianist Yubie Blake who have lived into their 90’s and they smoked, abused alcohol and drugs, and did not eat a purely vegetarian diet. But he was living and performing, being creative, using his mind and probably enjoying his daily life.

I don’t believe that eliminating all sugar and all alcohol, pushing yourself to exercise intensely 4 x every week and eating so carefully that you can’t enjoy a good dinner out – with bread and wine and dessert – I don’t believe that this practice will really result in longevity. If you break bread with friends and family, enjoy light hearted conversation regularly, have hobbies or goals that you pursue, and cut yourself some slack so that you don’t have to push to do it all, that is the key to a long and happy life.