You’re eating right, exercising and have given up unhealthy vices such as smoking and excessive drinking. Your parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived long, full lives. So good habits and genes are all you need to live longer, right? Wrong.
According to the Danish twin studies, your DNA may be only 15 to 30 percent responsible in determining how long you live. Scientists studied identical twins who had been raised separately and lived different lifestyles. They made the assumption that if genes were a factor in longevity, a set of twins would live to approximately the same age. But that wasn’t the case. Results showed a dramatic difference in life span between siblings, proving that genes don’t play as significant a role as we thought.
In Okinawa, Japan, the average life expectancy is 82. The people share a sense of ikigai, which means “a reason for being.” They also eat a primarily plant based diet and stay active – both well-known keys to longevity. But healthy living alone may not help you live longer. It’s possible that a healthy dose of purpose and self-determination could have a significant influence on your longevity. Studies of people 65 to 92 years old performed by gerontologist Robert N. Butler supports this claim. Those in the group who had defined goals lived longer and had sharper minds.
So if you’re taking care of your body, what else can you do to boost your chances of living to 100? Consider these steps to finding your own ikigai:
Roll with the punches
Stress can affect your life span. Many studies show that centenarians handle stress well by not focusing on misfortune or obstacles, but rather stay positive. Find a way to keep your stress levels down, and you’ll increase your chances of longevity.
Do what you love, love what you do
Pursuing your passions may be a key to living longer. Dedicate your time to your favorite hobby. Find others who share the same interests as you. Get creative and try new hobbies or activities.
Get out of your comfort zone
Travel to places you’ve never been. Study a new language. Read books on unfamiliar topics. There’s still a lot to learn! Folk artist Grandma Moses learned to paint in her 70s.
Discover social networking
No, we aren’t talking about the latest web site to help you keep in touch with friends. We’re talking about actual human interaction. Talking to friends and family every day can reduce depression, which is common among the elderly.
Giving is just as rewarding as receiving, sometimes even more so. Volunteering can not only help you feel great, it can also be an avenue for making new friends.
There are countless ways to live with purpose. For you, it may be pursuing your lifelong dreams, or simply appreciating the life you have. Regardless, follow the example set by our seniors, and live the life you have to the fullest. And don’t forget to eat your fruits and veggies too.
For more information on longevity, visit http://www.bluezones.com.