Wouldn’t we all like to take the “long life” highway?
Haven’t we all listened to the advice of our elders for living longer? Maybe we don’t always take the advice, but we listen. The older we get, the more we listen!
About a month ago, I came across an astonishing article (footnote below) detailing a study of 1500 participants whose lives were tracked for EIGHTY YEARS.
Some of what the study uncovered is startling and counterintuitive. So, let’s begin:
Men live longer if they are married. Yep. That is “steadily married men” live longer. If you are a “man ho,” then you’re screwed. (Literally.)
Relax more and you’ll live longer. Not so much. In the study, those with the most career success were least likely to die young. Successful men lived years longer. Ditto for productive women. It’s important that we have a sustained work life. Who knew? Retirement is not the life saver it’s cracked up to be.
You’ll worry yourself to death! No. Not really. Trying to get rid of those obsessive traits? That need to organize? That annoying tendency to think ahead and prepare for disaster? You keep right on doing that. And if you aren’t forward-thinking and paying attention to details, you should start. The study found that you can improve your life path if you BECOME conscientious.
Advanced degrees means advanced years. No! Productivity and persistence were better indicators of long life than the PHD. Advanced degrees are good. Educated people tend to live a little longer in general, but education alone isn’t enough to boot Death from the doorstep.
Optimism, happiness and cheerfulness will see you through to a long, happy life. A big pessimistic NO. Cheerfulness was right up there with high blood pressure and high cholesterol as a risk factor for early death. Optimists are the opposite of the long-lived worrier.
Obviously there is a great deal more to the study, but I find even these tidbits are fascinating. The study began as a way to understand the sources of intellectual leadership. The children were studied in depth and followed. Then decades after the original study, the participants were recycled and studied anew for twenty more years to unlock some of the secrets to long life.
What are your secrets to a long life? Did you win the gene pool lottery and fall over 90 year-old relatives at every reunion?
Footnote: The Myths Of Living Longer, Parade Magazine, The Commercial Appeal newspaper