I often read Goal Habits. I find the quick and daily quotes to be thoughtful and poignant. Saturday’s post was quite different. It was titled Live Long and Prosper. That title makes me think of Vulcan’s, Star Trek and my Dad’s friend Prosper. When I read this post, I discovered it was none of these things but a quiz of sorts to discover if you have a good chance of living long. I have made significant changes to my life this past year so I thought I would do a comparison to see how I am doing.
The book “Aging Well”, by Harvard Medical School Psychiatrist, George Vaillant has acquired the results of these studies that track the physical and emotional well-being of the 824 men and women from every social stratum.
The Top 10 Secrets for Graceful Aging
1. Avoiding cigarettes: Smoking increases dramatically the risk of cancer, hardening of the arteries, and heart disease. Not smoking is the single most important factor for staying alive!
So far so good, I don’t smoke! That is not to say I never have. I have, I even occasionally taken a drag off a friends or my brother’s at a bar or by the cars after work. Work is stressful. Why do I do this? I don’t know why, perhaps I’ll die. I can say I don’t buy cigarettes and I smoke less than 5 a year. I’m sure living by the refineries growing up was worse for my health.
2. Keeping a healthy weight: Half the [U.S.] population is overweight, 20% is obese. Obesity will stop you dead in your tracks. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating the right foods prevents disease. Get a better handle on eating well!
Hmmm…TOTAL FAIL! I am working on it. I am 65lbs less than this time last year. I AM getting there. Food addiction is hard, emotional eating is hard but I feel confident I have a handle on it.
3. Wear sun screen 15-20 minutes in the sun is essential for Vitamin D. When you’re in the sun for prolonged periods of time (for more than 15-20 minutes without a sunscreen, the inflammation process is heightened. Wear a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF.
Again TOTAL FAIL! I hate wearing sunscreen. It makes my skin feel like it is wrapped in plastic and it makes me hot. I suspect – not that I know because I am not a research scientist – sunscreen prevents the absorbtion of vitamin D. I am sure that is an irresponsible statement, it’s just speculation on my part. When I was 16, I laid on the beach in San Diego watching the Sailors come into port, I have a thing for Sailors… I fell asleep in the sun. I woke up so burnt I could not bend my arms and legs. I was stretched out on the plane in a plank position, nearly weeping as people brushed by me. I still don’t have cancer, but I check regularly because I know I am a strong candidate.
4. Proper diet: Add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your daily menu. Most have no fat, cholesterol, or sodium — and they’re low in calories.
YAY! I am winning this one! I eat according to the Canadian Food Guide, with occasional treats now and then.
5. Exercise regularly: After the age of 30 we tend to lose one-third of a pound of muscle per year, and our bones become weaker as well if they aren’t subjected to weight-bearing exercise.
YAY! I am winning this one too! I swim 3-4 times a week, run, weight train, walk, yoga and a bunch of fun stuff that is classed as exercise but I just think of it as fun activities.
6. Develop good adjustment or coping skills: stress is a part of our daily life. It is unavoidable. The single most important point you can make about stress is that in most cases it’s not what’s out there that’s the problem, it’s how you react to it. How you react is determined by how you perceive a particular stress. Learn more on how to cope with stress.
Hmm… I am mostly winning. I think about things a lot. Probably to excess. Over think is likely a better term. I am quick on my feet solving other people’s problems, mine are a bit harder to solve because I am standing in the middle of the pile and it is hard to see thing clearly. I am better at it then I use to be and much better at it then many people I know, it’s a process.
7. Maintaining strong social relationships: Aging successfully, according to Vaillant, is something like being tickled — it’s best achieved with another person. Whether your social connections are with a spouse, offspring, siblings, bridge partners, and/or fellow churchgoers, they’re crucial to good health while growing older.
Hmmm fail? I hate people. Which is hilarious when you look at my job. I work with people ALL DAY LONG. Maybe that is why I am a hermit at night. I love social media because I don’t have to listen if I don’t want too. It’s really about being a narcissist. But on the other side of the coin, I have some very strong friendships and a loving family relationship. Maybe it is about finding balance. I can’t spend too long being in the presence of people because my brain gets tired. I grow weary of listening to others problems. I want to just laugh. I don’t laugh enough with friends. Mostly because their problems aren’t that funny and it’s rude to laugh at someone when they are depressed…just saying.
8. Reduce anxiety: We have fears and worries but when they begin to dominate our life and our behavior, and become the focal point in which everything revolves, that’s anxiety. Many factors can contribute; trauma, chemical sensitivity, caffeine, heredity, drugs, alcohol, lifestyle choices….If you cannot change the situation that is the focus of anxiety, try to determine a way of trying to change your way of handling the problem.
WIN! This is not a problem for me. I am very laid back and often say to myself…is this a big deal in the grand scheme of things? If I say no, then it’s all good. Besides with most problems, if you take a close look and decide if that is the biggest problem you face, life is pretty damn good.
9. Laugh: Humor is one of the best medicines! The most psychological predictor of aging well is learning how to cope, re-channel, diffuse, and dispense of envy, jealousy, aggression, revenge and anger.
WIN! I don’t laugh until my sides hurt very often, I wish I did because I love that feeling! But I find things funny that most people don’t understand. I like to think of it as high level humor, but who are we kidding…
10. Pursuing education: Curiosity and creativity help transform older people into seemingly younger ones, says Vaillant, even if their joints ache and even once their days of enjoying free access to the office copying machine are a distant memory. Individuals who are always learning something new about the world, maintaining a playful spirit, and finding younger friends as they lose older ones also are making the most of the aging process.
WIN! I am working towards my MBA I am sure that counts as pursuing education.
That leaves me with 8 out of 10. That’s being generous. It’s more like 6.5 out if 10. The top student in me says that is a fail. I always want a A+ but if having a C means I have something to work towards, then so be it. I guess I stand a good chance of living longer than 52 years of age – unless I get hit by a bus or eaten by a Polar Bear – just by continuing to do what I have been doing. Awesome? So doing the math means 65… hmmm
What is your score?