The 3 Secrets To Unusual Longevity

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So, you wish to know the secrets of unusual longevity… well, who doesn’t right?!

Would you believe it actually has very little to do with a ‘miracle supplement’, workout routine, and that modern science is still stumped?

I’m just going to throw this out there up front: this is not a post about medicine, health, or even about routinely draining a glass of blended green goo of some ‘miracle’ plant from the farthest corners of the deepest jungles.

In fact, even the upper echelons of the health and medical communities haven’t the foggiest clue about what makes people live unusually long lives.  (If they had, then wouldn’t they all be living past 95?)

Doctors have studied this for centuries in an attempt to ‘crack the code’ –but the funny part is that these ‘secrets’ are right in front of us.

I remember even catching myself thinking about my own great grandmother: “Hmmm… she lived until she was 102.  I wonder how she did that.  What could it have been?”

 

The Secret Is That the Answer Is Obvious

Suddenly, it donned on me that …well, these kindly elderly folks have been preaching from that soapbox for millennia.  I’m sure there have been at least a handful of interviews with these people, who have generously divulged of these ‘secrets’.

Well, wouldn’t you know it –just a quick glance at Google, and you find that these long-life-blessed people have been shouting from the rooftops about what it is.

No, your mind won’t be blown, and you won’t even have to take notes.  It’s far simpler than you might have imagined –yet it will give you that feeling: the one where you’re listening to common sense from an old trusted friend.  It’s like feeling the warmth of a blanket on a cold day.

At least in my experience –I walked away from this thinking, “Well, now that just makes sense.”

So after my travels to the farthest reaches of the Google-verse …I believe I’ve boiled down the advice of the wisest among us into 3 simple ‘secrets’.

 

#1: Laugh Often, Love People, and Be Positive

One of my favorite examples comes in the form of what the NY Times called, ‘quite a character’: Bel Kaufman.  She’s best known for her bestseller novel from 1965, called Up the Down Staircase.  One of her most notable qualities …she’s an incurable jokester at almost 103 years of age!

I couldn’t help but find mountains of wisdom in a little thimble of truth from a very quotable life observation of hers:

“Laughter keeps you healthy. You can survive by seeing the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy. You can’t laugh and be angry, you can’t laugh and feel sad, you can’t laugh and feel envious.”

And from the many like her, the elderly who have blown away life expectancy like it was already out of style –I’ve noticed this very common overtone.  It’s in the ability to laugh and see the beauty in life.

Interestingly, finding love is one factor that could be keeping more people alive than any pharmacy.  Phys.org published a study that attempted to find correlations in those who have unusual longevity.

It is widely understood that women statistically live longer than men –and while this factor strangely doesn’t affect women, it seems that long lasting, fulfilling love can keep a man alive:

“Steadily married men – those who remained in long-term marriages – were likely to live to age 70 and beyond; fewer than one-third of divorced men were likely to live to 70; and men who never married outlived those who remarried and significantly outlived those who divorced – but they did not live as long as married men.”

Two elderly gentlemen also back this point, also believing that their wives were the reason they were still alive:

  • Samuel Ball (102) – “Have a good wife, two scotches a night, and be easy-going.”
  • Gardner Watts (98) – “My longevity is attributed to my long happy marriage. We did everything together. She was perfect in my eyes.”

So, it seems that living life from a basis of love and laughter isn’t just a premise you find on a bumper sticker.  These two outlooks appear to be the reasons for seeing an unusually long life.  But I also noticed, just like in the study I mentioned that talked about marriage… it’s in the stick-to-it attitude.

 

#2: Do What You Love, Commit To It, and Live To Help Others

Another part of that study I found extremely inspiring was the understanding that you get what you give.  You might not have originally thought this (and this even came as a surprise to me), but simply being loved actually doesn’t translate to producing any life-sustaining health benefits.  What does, you ask?

Being in an active state of loving and keeping at it:

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“People who feel loved and cared for report a better sense of well-being, but it doesn’t help them live longer. The clearest health benefit of social relationships comes from being involved with and helping others.”

This seems to be a HUGE factor, and I believe, it’s because this involves two basic ‘secrets’, which are love and staying active.  I found two other quotes that will give you an idea:

  • Irvin Ladimer (96) – “For a long, healthy life, you need a plan and a purpose. It could be family, writing a book, becoming president. Without a purpose, plan or objective, what do you need?”
  • Alyse Laemmle (96) – “Never run out of responsibility; if you don’t have one, find one. Find a cause and knock yourself out for it. It will enhance your brainpower, interest in life, and keep you alive longer. I’m alert because I work. Virtue is its own reward.”

So, I suppose you could say that it is a purposeful existence that will prolong it.  But also, it needs to be an existence centered on love for people and helping others.  Curiously, the inverse is also true: hate can, in fact, kill you.

 

#3: Stay Curious, Constantly Learn, and Never Hate

In an inspirational piece, written by Joya Martin, she had the privilege of interviewing the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer –who passed on this past February at the age of 110.

This woman had seen the very worst that humanity could deliver, and yet, she chose to leave hate behind her:

“Alice zealously expresses. ‘Never, never hate. I don’t hate the Germans. They are wonderful people, no worse than others. Evil has always existed and always will. It is part of our life.’”

 

The article continues, saying that she not only kept the hate away –but the reason for her longevity was due to her belief that “…every day in life is beautiful”:

“Alice credits her longevity to her optimism, saying ‘this is the reason I am so old, I know about the bad things but I look only for the good things.” “I think about the good. That takes a lot of practice.’”

I think that Alice was certainly on to something here… if you can’t let go of hate and hold on to anger, then you won’t be able to see life and the world as a thing of beauty.  If you can’t see the beauty –then curiosity will be something you only cherish in your younger years.

Irving Kahn (106) said that in order to have longevity, then “It is very important to have a widespread curiosity about life.”

If you simply stay curious, because “every day in life is beautiful”, then this could be one reason you might one day be watching your great-great grandchildren playing from the front porch rocker.

 

What Studies Didn’t Show?

I found it extremely interesting that most studies couldn’t find any real connections or common traits, concerning diets, exercise, or even long-held habits.  Of course, some habits are going to put your funeral date in the express lane –but honestly, most groups running these studies came up completely confounded by the end.

Life outlook has a major impact on life quality, and this impact is so pronounced that it can cut a life short or prolong it by 30 years.

So, what about you?

I’m certain I might have missed a couple great ‘secrets’…

So, do you have any that you’d like to share?  Perhaps you have a centenarian in your life, who has taught you a thing or two about how to live and do it right.

If so, please be sure to comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

Roxana Saidi

In June 2011, Roxana became the third founding team member of The Kerry Gaynor Method. Kerry’s mission to rid the world of cigarettes was a very personal one as many of her friends and acquaintances had already quit smoking thanks to Kerry. Roxana regards her role at the company not as a position, but instead as a leader in a movement to eradicate death, suffering and illness due to cigarettes.

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