independent

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Life is a marathon not a sprint - enjoy it

By Calodagh McCumiskey - Wellbeing & Meditation

We are lucky we live in an age where we have access to so much knowledge and wisdom about happiness, health and longevity. Throughout the ages different solutions have been sought. Alchemists tried to formulate 'the elixir of life', also connected with the philosopher's stone, a mythical potion that supposedly gives eternal life and or youth to those who drink it. It was also believed to cure disease and is the subject of so many stories, quests, books and movies throughout the centuries.

While at times we can be confused by so much information, the evidence for long-term-health and happiness available today is clear and inspiring. So many centenarians are sharing their secrets and joie de vivre in books, on facebook and many studies analyze their lifestyle and attitudes.

How do they do it? So many who survived almost unimaginable hardship in the wars of the 20th century came through things better and not bitter and happy and healthy.

Lifestyle disease and stress are the epidemics of our time. If we want to live long and healthy lives, we must do our best to live a life that minimizes our suceptability to both.

Today on average, we are living 6 years longer than we did in 1990 (the Lancet). But that does not necessarily mean we are healthier for longer.

The habits of the people living in bluezones (documented in a great book 'Bluezones'), five places in the world where there are maximum number of people living long and healthy lives give great insights into living well mind, body and spirit.

They move naturally. Exercise is part of their lifestyle through gardening, housework, walking to the shops or to work and regular yoga or tai chi etc. They eat less meat and processed food. They eat until 80 percent full. Interestingly many of them drink alcohol but always in moderation and regularly-one a day taken with food and socially.

They have a sense of purpose. Studies show that those with clear goals in life live longer and are mentally sharper than those that don't. While they have a purpose they also have an ability to shift gears and enjoy the wonders all around us - a beautiful sunset, nature, a smile, and good-times with family and friends. A life message I love from a centenarian: "Life is short, don't run so fast you miss it".

Those that paid regular attention to their spiritual side through prayer, reflection, reading, meditation and or attending religious services had lower rates of heart disease, depression, stress, and suicide and their immune systems work better. They also shared a sense of we-ness in the family and in their communities through participating in community groups and or networks that promote and share positive values.

Most of the recommendations related to consistent positive habits and balance in work, food, rest, enjoyment and social connections.

Interestingly, while women live longer than men on average the world over, a Lancet study suggests the gender gap may be more to do with lifestyle factors and not biology as globally men smoke and drink more than women and take more risks.

The evidence of the habits, attitudes and lifestyles that promote health and longevity are there for all to explore. There are always exceptions to statistics but we can learn from them. We can choose to develop better life-serving habits. If you want to make changes, do things gradually and consistently and integrate healthier practices serving your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Build strong relationships. And do more of what works best for you.

Life is a marathon not a sprint. Enjoy

Wexford People

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