Want to know the secrets of those who tend to live longer lives? I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t include regular trips to the fountain of youth. In reality they live with habits and patterns of behavior that not only helps them live longer, but also helps them live happier. Sounds like a pretty good gig to me.
The University of Southern California has a gerontology program, an “aging degree”, dedicated to the study of human lifespans and aging. One USC gerontologist recently took a trip to India to learn exactly how people can regularly live into their 90s and 100s a 3rd world country. The secrets he observed provide some really cool insight into living a healthier life.
Here are some of the tips:
1. Avoid Stress
You don’t need stress. So get rid of it. You can be a happy, productive human being and live with low stress levels. Stress can harm the health and is linked to cancer, lung disease, and a weakened immune system. Reduce your tension by exercising, participating in yoga, and taking time to unwind each day.
2. Maintain a Social Life
Researchers suggest that surrounding yourself with family and friends can reduce the risk of depression, which is common in the elderly and can often lead to premature death. We’re social animals, part of our health relies on being with others. Finding social interaction (I’m not talking about “likes” on Instagram) on a daily basis is a habit for those with longer lives.
3. Make Spices a Regular Part of Your Diet
The new thing in health studies these days are holistic health treatments. But go tell an Indian about your new herbal health treatments and they’ll laugh at you. They’ve known for thousands of years that regular consumption of spices like turmeric and cinnamon help you live much longer.
4. Find & Maintain Spirituality
Spiritual rituals, beliefs, and traditions are a consistent attribute of those who live longer and healthier lives. Spirituality has been shown to be quite psychologically nourishing. India certainly has strong roots in religious and spiritual tradition, but any form of spirituality that connects with your soul will work.
5. Own a Pet
Owning a household pet lowers stress levels and the blood pressure due to the joy that’s involved of having a friend around. This is more of a western tradition, but it is definitely proven to boost mental, emotional, and social health.
6. Spread Optimism
The elders who were interviewed in this study had an air of optimism about them. Those who were around them tended to just feel happier because of the influence of these people. These elders sought to instill their same attitude and outlook in others. Mother Nature likes to keep the happy people around.
7. Work Hard
After decades of working hard and building your career, it may seem ideal to spend the rest of your days under a palm tree with a drink in your hand. But people who live longer always have a project to work on, or chores to do. An old Indian millionaire with 35 servants still wakes up early every morning to sweep his house.
8. Be a Food Nazi
Don’t take what you put down the hatch lightly. People who live longer have strict eating schedules, eat small portions frequently, don’t ever consume over-processed foods, and generally avoid meat. Again, herbs are a common feature in their meals. Grow a garden, strive to eat organics as much as possible.
9. Physical Activity
Long living people get off their bums and do something. Most commonly, they walk. Those who walk long distances regularly are healthier all around. Yoga is also a powerful exercise that builds fitness for the long run. Another weird habit from India? Take cold baths.
10. Never Stop Learning
Reading books, writing, memorizing poetry or scripture, learning songs, listening to stories are just a few of the habits that people with long life consistently engage in. Sincere interest in learning new things about the world is a common attribute among these people.
Invest in these kinds of habits! They are worth the change and will pay off for years down the road. This is the kind of health worth spending time on.
About the Author: Hannah is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She is passionate about fitness, family, and psychology.