Die anyway. That is correct. Doing all the right things will only get you so far. The thing is not to abandon doing all of the right things you think you should do because you will die anyway. Let me make this clear. Keep doing whatever it is you are doing if you feel good about yourself and how you manage your life, mind, body and the relationships you have.
For me, however, I know the best thing I can do for my healthy longevity is to limit stress and worry. I had a dentist tell me (with her tongue planted firmly in cheek) she thought I was grinding a little and said, “Bob, if you eliminate all the stress in your life, your grinding will stop.”
I thought this was genius; a most simple thing to do, right? Just eliminate the stress from your life and you are good to go. I do not know how it is possible to eliminate all the stress from one’s life, however. You can try to eliminate some. You can try to offset stress’ debilitating effects with exercise, rest and eating the right things. But is it possible to become obsessed with doing the right things in order to limit stress in life and feel better overall (while trying to have a better quality of life as we age)?
The answer to that is a resounding maybe. By trying too hard to live better longer, we perhaps create additional subsets of worry and concern while in the process. Attempting to avoid things like dementia and Alzheimer’s by regularly exercising via more-expensive-than-you-can-afford paid fitness club memberships, eating high-priced organic food and taking anti-depressant medication because we are unhappy (living in a time where we have more of everything than ever before and do not know how to enjoy this abundance), we tend to generate more worry, which causes even greater levels of stress, and compels us to exercise harder, diet faster and self-medicate more intricately. We eventually begin the neurotic process of tweaking our lives microscopically—a pinch less of this and a tablespoon more of that and surely my body systems will react more favorably to my calls for a return to balance!
If we live long enough we all get to endure the aging process. I use the word endure because as Paul Newman reportedly once said, “Growing old ain’t for sissies.” It is not. Growing old can be cruel, and we are told over and over again we must age “gracefully.” Father Time has his own ideas for how we will age, and gracefully, unfortunately, is not always in the cards.
Everyone knows that 100 years ago and beyond, everyone ate more purely, closer to the earth and with less overall manufacturing process. The acronym GMO did not exist back then. Everyone received plenty of exercise on the jobs they worked. The everyday lives of most people were way more physical than the kind of lives lead today. We did not have things like paid health club memberships, fitness centers or “pay to run” clubs. No offense to anyone and everyone who participates in organized fitness activities, but one of the beauties of running and exercising is that the “free” choice still exists. Not too many of us take advantage of the free route anymore. Sadly enough, over the years we lost our ability to recognize what kinds of exercise our bodies need, too.
So what do we do today?
We rely on other people to tell us what type of exercise we should be doing and what kinds of food to eat. The problem with utilizing other people’s knowledge in these areas is that as well-intentioned as it can be, unless you have enough financial resources to go through the evolutionary process of finding out what works best for you, all too often the reality is that you will contribute to the profitability of multinational conglomerates by consuming your share of Big Macs or reasonable facsimiles thereof, upon your professionally organized fitness routines expiring.
The Internet and the lifestyles it has brought kind of simultaneously screwed and assisted us. Catchwords like “balance” and “moderation” are part of the lexicon now. The irony with a lot of this is we live in a world where there are arguably more addictions than ever before. How can we attain any “balance” or “moderation,” when we have chronic compulsions to feel and look good at any cost?
We criticize professional athletes who look for chemical, synthetic performance edges and get caught. But at the end of the day, most each and every one of us would take a pill if it would help stave off the ravages of the aging process. When we are young we are not concerned with what we will become or have to contend with, once we are older. We consistently put off all thoughts of the aging process and unfortunately disregard (and disrespect) our elders; so much for reaping the benefits of their wisdom.
I believe old people have a lot of wisdom. They grin a lot during the limited times they can interact with young people (who are seemingly busier than their elders ever were). I believe the smiles of elders belie their wisdom; they reveal their knowledge of the fates of those who would ignore the best of what life can offer each day in favor of the folly that is the pursuit of youthful longevity.
- How to live longer – the experts’ guide to ageing (theguardian.com)
- LM modifies habits toward healthier living (arabtimesonline.com)