The 7 Key Ingredients for Longevity

The idea of longevity is a paradox in our modern society. We all want to live longer but nobody wants to get old. However, the common conception of getting older is still linked to the idea of disease and decline, and of course, nobody wants to be sick and miserable. That is not a future worth looking forward to.

What if it wasn’t true?

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Who says that you’re doomed to gradually fade away as from a certain age? What if there were people who defy society’s idea of aging? You might be surprised to hear that the fastest growing population on this planet is the group of centenarians. Isn’t that amazing? And most of these hundred-year-olds are leading a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

Bearing in mind that one in 26 Baby Boomers will celebrate their 100th birthday, let’s take a look what this means to us as a society and to you as an individual. As longevity more and more becomes a reality, retiring at the age of 60 or 65 is now a concept of the past. Just imagine, 35 years or more of retirement?

After decades of hustling and running in the hamster wheel of modern life, you would be completely lost if you hadn’t done some planning early on. This means, at midlife, it’s high time to seriously think about this. And a long life is only worth living if we take charge of ourselves and our well-being. So what can we do now to ensure that we will look forward to our birthday cake with 100 candles?

What are the seven most important keys to a long and happy life? 

1. Focus on the bright side of life

Most drama in our lives only happens in our mind and never comes true. We stress and worry about things that we cannot control. About things that might or might not happen in the future. Worry releases stress hormones like cortisol, which is only a good thing in a fight-or-flight situation. But worrying on a constant basis with chronic high cortisol levels can lead to serious health issues.

Why do we even keep trying to control things that we can’t control? We do it because this is how we have been programmed, and we have been used to doing it for so long. However, it takes just as much time and energy to look at the good in any given situation as it takes to ponder on and worry about the unwanted things or things that might never even happen. Focusing on the positive just takes some practice and anyone can do it.

It is a simple but often not easy step to a much happier life. However, the older we get, the more we tend to understand this and we calm down and stop stressing out so much. We have lived enough life to know where to focus our energy and don’t get distracted by unnecessary drama. We know that it’s much more fun to walk through life with courage and eager anticipation for the next adventure that is waiting around the corner.

vegetables2. Watch what you put into your mouth

Healthy centenarians have always watched their diet. They have not adopted the modern day habits of eating far too large quantities of bad quality foods.

“Here’s diet advice you may not have heard before: Eat like it’s 1960. Our centenarians were critical of today’s supersized portions; the majority advised just eating nutritious food in moderation.” 

says Lynn Peters Adler, J.D., co-author of the book “Celebrate 100: Centenarian Secrets to Success in Business and Life”. 

For experiencing a quality of life, a right size body is not only vital at the age of 100 but at any age. Feeling good in your own skin is one of the main ingredients for freedom and happiness. Overweight and obesity drag you into a downward spiral of physical and mental disease.

If you happen to be among the 39% of adults worldwide who are overweight or obese, it is so important to find help and do something about it now if you want to enjoy a fun-filled long life. Don’t wait any longer. Others have done it and so can you!

keep execising3. Stay active and exercise

You might have heard the saying, “You lose what you don’t use”. If you ever had to stay in a hospital for a few days, you were probably stunned to watch how fast your muscles decline when you are lying in bed all day. Joan Vernikos is the former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of the book “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals”.

In her research, she concluded that aging is a slow form of weightlessness. Astronauts, who are far healthier and fitter than the average adult, showed severe signs of aging when returning from space.

Through our modern sedentary lifestyle, as we spend most of our days sitting in front of the computer or the TV, we accelerate our aging process. Exercising and movements that resist the force of gravity, as simple as getting up from the chair, for instance, are important ingredients for longevity.

And we all know that a regular exercise regimen is good for our general well-being anyway. Anyone can find a type of sport or exercise that suits them personally. We can do it anywhere at our pace and don’t necessarily have to go to the gym. There are many other ways. Find something that you enjoy doing so you can sustain it on a regular basis.

My mom’s partner, for instance, can’t go without his daily walks or bicycle rides. Every year he goes skiing for two weeks and in October he goes hiking in the mountains. He is on the move all the time. Did I mention that he is 87?

4. Cultivate your mindbook and glasses

If you want to live a long and fulfilled life, make sure that your mindset is serving you. Every now and then, it is good to question your beliefs and, if applicable, clear out any clutter.

In order to keep it clean, it is important to place a good “spam filter” at the gate of your mind. Don’t let just anybody walk in and contaminate your brains with their dirty feet.

Instead, question what you hear and decide if it is congruent to your values and if it serves you. How does it apply to your life? And for the mind, the same holds true as for our muscles. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Be or become a life-long learner. These days with the internet, there are so many interesting topics that you can learn about and you will be amazed how much fun you can have when you keep challenging your gray matter every day. 

5. Cultivate your relationshipsgroup of friends

Humans are tribal beings. Robinson nearly went crazy on his paradise-like island because he was alone. What a relief when Friday turned up, even though they were not able to communicate at first. But now he knew that he was not alone and that gave him hope.

We need the interaction with others, that’s our nature. Ask yourself, who in your circle of influence serves you and who doesn’t? Who is a pain to be with and who do you have the most fun with? Spend more time with your fun people and proactively cultivate those relationships.

If we are to stay much longer on this planet than former generations, we want to make sure that we are surrounded by people who are fun to be with, right? Make peace with all the people who might have hurt or disappointed you in the past. Clinging on to resentment only harms you.

“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

– Malachy McCourt 

Forgiveness is a simple but powerful exercise. You will feel a tremendous relief as you no longer carry old baggage around with you. Travel light into your old age! You can learn how to do it in this post on self-love

6. Keep evolving

What does living a long life even matter if we don’t keep growing and evolving as a person? If we don’t live on purpose? With the prospect of living another 40 to 50 years, you would want to find something meaningful to do with your time, don’t you? When was the last time that you did something for the first time?

For me, it was building my website on my own. This year I took on this challenge again, after having given up on it two years ago. I am not a techie at all and I just couldn’t figure it out back then. And how much fun I had this time when I finally got the hang of it. If I can do it, so can you. Even if you don’t want to start your own business you might perhaps want to have a website for family or hobby purposes, or just for the fun of sharing your knowledge.

This world and life have so much to offer. We are all so amazingly different and meeting new people can be so enriching. Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, just go for it and do it. Take new roads, find new hobbies, learn a new language, write a book or build a business. You are not done yet, this planet and your fellow humans need you and your talents. Let us know about you. 

woman laughing7. Have tons of fun

According to the German psychologist and learning and memory expert, the late Vera F. Birkenbihl (sorry, this link is in German), smiling is good for your immune system. Our brains don’t know if we have a reason to smile or if we smile and laugh for no reason at all.

By pulling our face into a broad smile, our face muscles press on the nerve which signals the brain that we are having fun. Do this deliberately for as long as 10 seconds in a neutral situation, as often during the day as you can, and for 60 seconds (in a row) when angry. Subsequently, the brain releases endorphins which, by the way,  are not only happiness hormones but also natural painkillers.

Now you know why it is recommended to laugh a lot when you’re sick, even though at the time you might think that you don’t have anything to laugh about because you’re in pain. Life is supposed to be fun. Nothing is more important than that you feel good. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that works in both directions, upwards and downwards. Your choice.

Do something that you enjoy every day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Listen to a song that you love, sit in the sun for 15 minutes, call a friend, buy yourself a bunch of flowers, color in a Mandala, play the guitar… and first and foremost, as I said, laugh and smile a lot. 

You are invited to join me in the centenarian’s club… in four and a half decades

I am part of the baby boomer generation and, according to the statistics,  one in 26 of us will make into the centenarian’s club. I am determined to have a birthday cake with 100 candles on it. How about you? Are you preparing yourself, your body and your mind for living a very long fulfilled, healthy and happy life? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so leave us a comment below and let’s get talking.

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