If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well.
And when it comes to doing the thing of “living life”, I’m of the mind that doing it big, wild, joyfully, and for as long as you can, is a good way to go.
Life is about having great experiences and doing fun things with your favorite people.
In a high-five from the Universe, many of the things that make for a rich life also make for a long one. Every now and then it’s good to revisit the factors and actions that we can take control of that gives back to us in the form of longevity.
Capitalize on the ingrained health benefits of living a great life, and see if you can add a few things your life from this list I compiled below with the Fit For Real Life team (all awesome individuals)
1. Have A Great Mindset
In this study, having a more positive mindset was linked to living 7.5 years longer than those who didn’t have a positive mindset.
This mindset advantage remained even after controlling for age, race, gender, loneliness, socioeconomic factors, and functional health. It’s not about keeping a good attitude all the time, it’s about knowing how to roll and dance with life – both the ups and the downs.
2. Have An Action Plan For Getting Back To A Great Mindset When Things Go Pear-Shaped
You will not have a great mindset every day. There may be periods – long ones, perhaps – where things are dark. Knowing how to start climbing back up to the ‘Land of Your Best Mindset’ is as important as knowing how to cultivate that great mindset in the first place.
Have several actions you can take: calling a friend, calling a professional, meditating, prayer, dance, reading or listening to people who move you and have good ideas that have helped you in the past.
3. Laugh Every Day
This video of baby goats being baby goats will get you started. I dare you to watch this and not actually laugh out loud.
4. Get Into Nature
Not only does nature promote stress reduction in our bodies, it provides vitamin D, and a breath of fresh air in an otherwise “indoor modern life”. Go right into your backyard and go far away to see other people’s backyards.
To be able to stand on your own two feet and walk, in a direction only you’ve chosen to follow, is key for having a knowing trust and confidence in yourself. That you’ll be resourceful enough to ‘figure it out’ as you go. Trust yourself that you can walk the path alone if you need to.
The world’s longest living people (notably tracked in the Blue Zones Project, but also found in tribes throughout history) banded together and stayed committed to that group to see to the success of the entire group.
7.Stop And Smell The Roses
There don’t have to be actual roses where you are. Whatever is near you, stop and take notice for a few seconds. Aim to make your trip to work or school tomorrow with a new perspective – go a different route, be more mindful of what you’re passing as you commute, leave a little earlier so that you can actually stop if there are roses on your path and smell them.
8.Have No Regrets
Regrets keep you tethered to your past. Ruminating on the past increases your risk of becoming depressed, as well as a host of other unhealthy, longevity-reducing, behaviors.
Do the work to get ‘ok’ with whatever happened in the past. Not only will it help you make peace with the past, but the same strategies you learn to help you do that, will help you mentally and emotionally handle other areas of your life as well.
9. Learn New things, And Get A Pat On The Back For Doing So
As adults, we’re less likely to find ourselves in an active learning environment, and an active learning environment helps to keep our brain healthy & functional.
“According to the principle of neuroplasticity, the brain is constantly changing in response to various experiences. New behaviors, new learnings, environmental changes, and physical injuries may all stimulate the brain to create new neural pathways or reorganize existing ones, fundamentally altering how information is processed.”
10. Explore Movement
11. Keep A Journal
Journaling dates back to at least 10th-century Japan. It appears that the act of writing down your thoughts works as a stress reducer, lowering blood pressure, enhancing your immune system, and supporting a healthy mindset.
12. Create An Intimate Connection
An intimate connection might mean sex, or it might mean sharing a bit of your soul with another person through a deep conversation. Or it might mean sharing your passion with another and feeling their joy as they experience it. Or it could mean feeling the deep connection you have to whatever you believe in. Or, it could mean the deep connection you feel as you stand at an outdoor concert and your favorite artist moves thousands of people, yourself included, in unison to unbelievably enchanting beats and notes.
Whatever your life looks like – it likely contains a few stressful moments.
Meditation provides insane amounts of health benefits. If getting started feels impossible, try downloading an app for your phone to assist you. Or, if at your computer, plug your headphones in, head over to calm.com and enjoy a pretty scenery and excellent ‘natural’ noise as you chill your self out for a few minutes.
Arianna Huffington, creator of the Huffington Post, in her book “Thrive”, shares her story of using meditation to find peace and calm amidst the hectic schedule of a US campaign season at a news agency.
14. Red Wine. With Friends.
When the longevity studies are done, there is always a mention of those who live longest having regular social time, done over a glass of wine, usually at the end of the day.
It’s not that the booze is inherently healthy, but it serves as a vehicle to get humans together, to put work away, to slow down, to down-regulate from the intensity of the day.
You don’t have to have wine for this to work, but a gorgeous Malbec out of Argentina…?
Not a terrible thing to have.
15. Adopt The Traits Of Those Living In The Blue Zones
These five areas were found to have the most centenarians anywhere in the world. Things they do differently include putting family and community first, they smoke less, they connect over wine (see 14.), and they engage in constant varied movement (see 10.).
16. Consume Nutritious Foods And Hydrate Yourself
Take note of how you feel after you eat various foods. Determine what makes you feel best, and do that. And amidst the red wine and coffee, be sure to get some water in. 😉
17. See The Good In People
Remember that mindset is a major predictor of longevity (that was 1.), how you choose to see the world around you (and the people in it) will play a role in the mindset you have.
18. Mend Your Relationships.
Did you know that forgiving someone gives you a stronger immune system? Pretty cool!
It also reduces blood pressure, reduces stress, and improves psychological well-being.
You’re not getting away with it. You need sleep. A chunk of it. Daily. Just listen to Doc Parsley, who was a Navy SEAL, and is now a doctor who cares about helping Navy SEALS fix their health, and helping everyone sleep better.
Failing to sleep enough and trying to function in your day is much like having an alcoholic beverage or two and going to work – your response times and cognition are impacted much the same way.
21. Do Activities You Truly Enjoy
If you hate running, don’t take up running as your form of exercise. Exercise and regular movement is a critical part of having good health.
There are classes for every form of movement these days – and if there are no classes by you – there is the internet. You can learn how to do tai chi, rock climb, do yoga, dance, do parkour, play volleyball, ice skate, and about 75,000 more activities (give or take a few).
Even if you live 90+ years, life is still too short to spend it doing activities you dislike. Doing an activity you enjoy increases feelings of happiness, creates a space for practicing skill development, and reduces stress.
22. Take Chances
You don’t learn where the line is until you come close to it. This is one reason kids today are struggling to develop certain motor patterns and skills. They don’t know how to climb, catch their balance, and fall because many playgrounds have been removed as safety risks. Adults are no different. If you keep it safe all of the time, you never find out what skills you possess out at the edges of your experience.
This is not to promote unnecessary risk-taking. Don’t quit your job to become a digital nomad just because you hate your boss today. Don’t leave college to head a start-up just because you had an idea you scribbled out on the back of a napkin. Be a calculated risk-taker.
23. Create A Life That Is As Low-stress As Possible
Stress is unhealthy when it comes in chronic, extended, doses. Acute stress is not bad for you. It’s how your body learns to adapt and respond. But when it becomes more normal to be stressed than not, your health is at risk. From heart health to brain structure and function, your body changes when it’s flooded with cortisol for an extended period of time.
Remove people and situations from your life that bring high-drama all of the time. Play more. Watch movies and read books. Nap. Laugh. Let go. Listen to music. Hold a puppy.
24. Discover Stuff
There is an unbelievable amount of ‘stuff to learn’ in this world. Start wondering more. Start asking more questions. “I wonder…” is personally one of my favorite sentences. Explore the history of the Lakota tribe of North America. Learn about space and all of the stuff up there in the sky. Learn about authors and their works and what was happening in the world when they wrote them.
25. Explore Yourself And Be Open To Change
If your youth was anything like mine, you wore certain clothes because that’s what all the kids wore. You did your hair a certain way because that’s what all the kids did. At some point in life you start figuring out what you *actually* like – and you start doing that. That doesn’t stop as you grow older.
Just because adult-You has always done it this way, doesn’t mean adult-You has to keep doing it that way.
If you’d like to to try something different, go for it! This entire list gives you jumping off points for all sorts of different things you can try.
Remember, as you’re trying new things, and change is occurring, there may be a point where it feels scary. That’s normal. Your brain looks for consistent patterns in the world around you, and you’re changing the patterns to put down new ones. In that transition time, you’ll feel uncomfortable.
Keep focused on the parts you enjoy most of the new thing you’re trying and soon enough you’ll see that you don’t feel uncomfortable anymore.
Everyone’s recipe for longevity looks slightly different. To have a rich, long, life you have to include ample doses of what makes you feel your best.
What Would You Include In This Longevity-Enhancing List?
I’d love to hear what you do to make your life longer and better.
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