Everyone wants to live a long and meaningful life, but so often we get caught up in work and financial matters that the little things, and especially happiness, seem to slip from our grasp. Don’t wake up years later to realize you’ve squandered your time. Although the secret to happiness is still elusive, research hints at some of the ways we can live longer and happier lives.
1. Eat the Mediterranean way
Although you might be a skeptic of diet fads, the Mediterranean diet has a formidable amount of evidence to back it up. The Mediterranean diet keeps making headlines – people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease and have better cognitive function according to the Wall Street Journal.
People in the Mediterranean regions also live longer lifespans, and it’s not just a fluke. Harvard Health Publications explains eating the Mediterranean way, (lots of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish) protects your chromosomes from fraying to keep you young at the very level of your DNA.
2. Get moving
At work people sit at their desks and at home, they’re often on the couch watching TV or at the table sharing a meal with the family. Unfortunately, all that sitting is harming your health. The Washington Post tells it like it is – sitting all day leads to organ damage, heart disease, back pain, poor circulation, and higher mortality rates. That’s not a pretty picture, but luckily, it’s easy to combat that grizzly fate. Just get up and get moving.
A study of over 660,000 people that lasted for 14 years showed that those who exercised moderately for about 20 minutes every day lowered their risk for mortality by 31 percent. Keep in mind to achieve results you don’t have to go crazy; a brisk walk will do the trick. Afterward, you can treat yourself to delicious weight loss shakes although the added years might be enough of a reward.
3. Don’t smoke
Although people have known for years that smoking is bad for health, it’s still common to see people smoking. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it’s better not to start in the first place. To reinforce the warning on tobacco products, the CDC reminds us that life expectancy for smokers is 10 years less, and overall mortality for smokers is three times higher.
4. Keep calm
That’s right, following the advice of the common meme by taking a deep breath in the face of stress and keeping calm could help you live longer. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress affects almost every area of our lives, causing muscle tension, respiratory problems, and cardiovascular issues. No one wants to worry or feel anxious all the time, so it’s better to learn to manage stress in a productive way. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or any other activity that help you calm down and focus.
5. Follow a sleep-wake-cycle
Never underestimate the power of sleep. An analysis of 16 studies and over a million people showed that sleeping six hours or less led to a 12 percent increase in mortality, but sleeping nine hours or more led to an increase of 30 percent. People naturally develop a circadian rhythm shortly after birth, and it seems that to reap the benefits you need to follow your biology. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but older adults only need up to eight.
6. Practice gratitude
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to count the things you’re thankful for. Studies show that practicing gratefulness, not just thinking about it, but writing down what you’re thankful for or telling someone, makes people feel more optimistic, happier, and may even make them more productive at work and in their personal lives. Keep a gratitude journal, or even download an app for your phone to remind you what you’re thankful for. This is the best way to change your entire psychology and start noticing all the positive things in your life for long lasting happiness.
7. Keep in touch
You probably already feel happier when you’re spending time with family and friends, they add more meaning to your life, share important experiences, and are there for you when you’re down. However, they also might be the key to a long life. An analysis of hundreds of studies has proven people who have more social ties live longer, actually, their chance of surviving was 50 percent higher. It sounds like it might be a good time to pick up the phone and invite a friend to lunch.
So many people make happiness and longevity harder than they have to be, but all you need to do is follow these few simple steps.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.