To be Uploaded
A quick Google search delivers over 14 million results…. I fear I would need to live until I was 150 to read half of these articles and the chances are it would not have been a very happy life trawling through articles for 12 hours a day!
So let me break this down. Can anyone guarantee longevity? Given the unpredictability of life and the proverbial bus which may hit you at any time, then the answer is a resounding NO. However, are there things we can do to statistically increase the likelihood of longevity? Then probably yes, so let’s start there.
How to live to be 100
Despite the plethora of online articles promising “5 ways to a long life”, “10 simple things you can do to live until 100” to name just a couple, with advice ranging from spending 5 minutes a day bending your knees into certain positions, eating your dinner off the floor once a week, to the slightly more orthodox advice such as: eat more broccoli; sleep more; sleep less; have more sex; have less sex; have no sex; swim everyday; cycle everyday; eat chocolate; don’t eat chocolate; eat less fat; eat less sugar; meditate; practice yoga; eat the juice of 17 cabbages; be vegetarian, be vegan, never eat anything ‘beige’ in colour!
I don’t know about you but I am exhausted writing that list and the prospect of a few things on this contradictory list do not make me feel very happy! It would seem there is little consensus amongst the “experts” as to what activities lead to longevity. Additionally, it seems there is little one can do to affect the socioeconomic and geographical influences on longevity. Except, there is (almost) agreement about a correlation between happiness and longevity. So it may be that not only is it possible to live longer than ever before, being happy might actually be a significant determinant.
Do happy people live longer?
Initial research would suggest that there is a definitive link between happiness and longevity. However, on closer examination, it would appear that whilst there may be a significant correlation, the cause and effect may have been assumed. A recent study published in the Lancet, and reported in the Los Angeles Times, reports that the researchers, who examined several longitudinal studies carried out since the 1940’s, concluded that it was not reported happiness that determined a longer life, but in fact it was determined by overall health. The author’s findings were sadly that “happiness is not responsible for longevity” and furthermore “happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have a direct effect on mortality.” So the jury is still out as to whether happy people live longer.
So what is Happiness anyway?
The Oxford dictionary definition of “happy” says that it is “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”, so is happiness the same as contentment and pleasure? Or are pleasure and contentment constituent and necessary parts of the feeling we recognize as happiness? Is joyous the same as happiness? Delight? Bliss? Ecstasy? When do we take the time to really consider what determines our happiness?
I am sure you all know people who constantly seem to be intentionally delaying the possibility of happiness saying things like: “I’ll be happy when we move into a bigger house”, “I’ll be happy when I lose 10 lbs”, “I can’t wait until my holiday so I can relax and be happy”. Unfortunately I have rarely seen achievement of these goals bring about more than a very temporary observable change in their levels of happiness; they are all too soon inventing the next set of happiness determining goals of “I’ll be happy when…?”
I therefore chose to smile as often as possible on this journey of indeterminate length, because smiling at people is the simplest way I know how to feel happy.