12 Most Evidence-Based Ways to Add Zestful Years to Your Lifespan
It’s fairly easy to add 12 years to your life, and the research supports that there are certain improvements that will help to make later years of your lifespan healthy and happy. Which of the following 12 lifestyle habits would be easiest for you to implement into your own daily life?
1. Getting mellow
Consistent, low-level stress is toxic. Be unashamed about pampering yourself. Conduct an ernest, extended experiment with meditation to see if it’s for you. But most importantly, begin to witness your own thoughts objectively. Identify what thoughts are habitual and seem to create tension, anxiety, or malaise within your body.
2. Getting protective
It’s counterintuitive, but the fact is that when you are robustly healthy, then you are better able to take care of those you love. Not only that, but you’re a better role model, too. The only person who can truly take care of you, is you. Every day, you’re asked to make “exceptions” in your self-care — don’t do it! Protect your physical energy from eroding and ignore outside influences! Ask yourself this question:
- What are some typical situations in which I have a hard time saying “no?”
Please: be fiercely protective of your physical energy.
3. Getting superfoods
There are particular whole foods and food-based nutritional supplements that might be very helpful to you as you improve your health. Consult with your professional nutritionist or naturopath to find which foods and supplements are ideal for your unique metabolism and chemistry. It’s an investment worth every penny.
4. Getting super-hearing
Learn to listen, in more than just a literal way (with your eardrums). Listen energetically by engaging your own intuition. Here’s the deal: most disease is caused, ultimately, by inflammation within the body. One of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation is to stop it before it starts: you can learn what foods your own body finds uniquely inflammatory and which foods help your body to thrive and heal. How? By listening closely to your body’s signals after eating. Did your energy level go up, or down? Did your heart rate accelerate or remain calm? The next morning after waking, were your eyes white and clear, or bleary with puffy-bags underneath? These are just some (of many) signals the body uses to try to communicate with you. But are you listening?
5. Getting fantastical
It’s astounding how we can gradually drift away — without even realizing it — from those people and activities that facilitate positive meaning and joy within our lives. Left unchecked, our daily lives will become habitually busy with the mundane and uninspired. Once a year, please sit down and write out your ideal day: from the moment you wake up in the morning until your bed hits the pillow at night — what occurs during a perfect day? Let yourself fantasize!
6. Getting connected
Just about every research study I’ve ever read cites a vigorous social network as one of the key factors to life extension and prosperity. There is an art and a science to reciprocity, so you have to be deliberate in your efforts. Let me say this again because it bears repeating: social intimacy is a huge factor in physical and emotional health after age 40. Be relational, and build your family-of-choice.
7. Getting a really good blender
In order to continue to improve your daily quality of life, you’ll almost certainly need to increase the amount of fresh vegetables you consume each day, including a diverse selection of abundant dark leafy greens. The easiest way I know to eat more leafy greens and veggies each day is: green smoothies. Speaking personally, things really got better for me once I upgraded my kitchen blender.
8. Getting off your @ss!
Most people underestimate how sedentary they are. Even 30 minutes of exercise each day might not be enough, unless you have a very active job. 60 minutes a day will probably do the trick. It comes down to this: the human body was designed for more activity than modern life typically provides.
9. Getting funny
Filter out negative influences, let more positive stuff in. People who have a sense of humor fare better as they age. So lighten up. Watch more comedies, less local news and less subpar crime procedurals. Do something each day that brings you laughter.
10. Getting simple
Find creative ways to tune-out the noise and become better organized. The key to increased happiness in modern life is simplicity. Set a sincere intention to simplify your life: pare down distractions, own less material items and focus on what matters. Do this gradually, but do it.
11. Getting Pareto
There are many success principles at play in the universe, but perhaps the least utilized (and least understood) is the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule. It’s a simple concept that can be applied to anything in your life; use it to focus your energies where they will have the most positive impact and the largest return. Let this sink in (I mean, really sink-in): 80% of your energy comes from 20% of your activities.
12. Getting above it all
Contemporary life has many advantages for which you can feel grateful, but be discerning. You live in a cacophony of consumer culture that has mass-developed destructive daily habits, many of which you have absorbed into your own routine without realizing it.
Longevity science needs to be helpful and inspiring in order to be actionable. Part of my job is to pore through this research (most of which you would find academic and dry, but I’m an über-nerd so I enjoy it) and curate that information in a way that is (hopefully) entertaining and concise. It’s a tough job, because sometimes I have to share bad news and I don’t want to motivate with fear.
Let me put it this way: your soul is thirsty and that salty punch that’s coming down the corporate conveyor belt — you don’t have to drink it (it will only make you thirstier).
The decision to permanently improve your own self-care is a decision that no one else can make for you (try as they might) — it is an internal shift, first.
Every day you will be required to set a healthy boundary with the world-at-large and, more specifically, with the people and circumstances of your life. Beware of drift!
I encourage you to reconnect with your purpose and hope. Our current culture does not always support our efforts at good health. There’s a point at which you have to decide to rise above the times in which you live and forge your own self-care path.
Featured image courtesy of jo 1966 licensed via Creative Commons.