Living longer is a goal for almost everyone. The headlines are full of healthful information about how to extend you life expectancy. What to live longer? Try restricting calories, or munching foods high in Resveratrol, or meditate while doing yoga every day. The ideas are endless.
All this is good advice, but there is really only one thing you have to do to improve the chances that you will live longer: Look further down the road.
You spend your days making decisions. You decide to get out of bed, what to eat for breakfast, what clothes you are gong to wear during the day… Many of these decisions are automatic such as brushing your teeth, wearing a seatbelt, scratching your head. And each of those decisions , no matter how minor, has an impact on your life. Some have a small impact on your life. Other decisions have more impact such as: should you move? should you marry? should you take that job?
The most important decisions you make, though, are the ones that appear to have little impact on your life when taken as a one-time event, but when repeated over a whole lifetime, have a huge impact.
Take a look:
- One cigarette means nothing to your health, but a pack of cigarettes a day for years equal cancer.
- One soda is a tasty treat, three sodas a day means a bigger chance for being overweight and having diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease…
- Driving in a car is the easy way to get to the store, walking instead of driving every day means you live longer.
- You may be too busy to call a friend back, but having good friends means you are more likely to live a longer and fuller life.
- You can’t find the time to exercise today, but exercises over a lifetime gives you energy, better sleep and can forestall diseases such as dementia, heart disease, diabetes and more.
There are more of these you can probably think of, consider adding yours to the comment section below!
Here is the problem: our brains are not set up to look further down the road. Are brains are set up to notice sudden and dramatic threats and adjust to them. If people took a puff from a cigarette and fell down dead, then we would avoid them. But since they kill us slowly, we seem to hardly notice the destruction because it is so slow. The same is true of sugar and other poor foods that we eat. The same is true about deciding to exercise, or take time with friends or the hundred of other healthy things we could be doing.
Humans are unique, though, in the fact that they can see further down the road, they can look at their futures.
Here is what you should commit to in order to increase your odds of staying on the earth longer:
- Eat better: I suggest Eating Below the Glycemic Index you can also try my 30 Sugar Free Days as a way to kick start a healthy eating plan.
- Exercise: Move your body around every day, sweat a little.
- Make Connections: Connect to friends, family and other social groups.
- Laugh: If you are not enjoying life, what is the point?
Take the time to develop habits that empower you and lean you towards better health, the payback is well worth the effort.