Longevity Most of us want a long life. In fact the quest for a long life is so pervasive that we tend to think that anyone wanting to die soon, is depressed and they need some sort of professional help.
Longevity - how long a creature can live varies by species. If you are a gardener, you know that some plants only last one season. (That's why they are called annuals.) Pet owners know that their dogs, cats, rabbits or pot bellied pigs are likely to die before their care takers. But what of human beings? What can we expect? Is there some way we can obtain great longevity?
The good news is that the human life span has been increasing. In the year 1000 a human being could expect to live to 20 years of age. That was it!(Source: Walter Bortz II, Dare to be 100). Today we consider someone dying at age 20 a much shortened life!
As the 21st century unfolds there are an increasing number of people 100 years of age or more. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy but there are other places in the world where many6 routinely live to 100 or more. ( This phenomena and reports of these elder lives are described in the book: The Blue Zones ) Centenarians are now one of the fastest growing groups in the developed world.
We are a far cry from the life expectancy of 1000 A.D. And the possibilities seem grow only brighter for those not yet 100 years old.
I have been researching longevity for some years - reading as many publications and studies as I can find. Studies vary. But more and more researches are saying that living a vital life well past 100 years is very possible. Not only Centenarians but Super Centenarians (those over 110 years) are one of the fastest growing segments of the population. Some researchers think that it is well within possibility for many of us to reach 120 years...some even say 136 years! And although living to 136 years may be exceptional, given the current state of things, it makes sense to think about seeing your 112th birthday.
Back in April 2009 I was teaching a class titled "Ageless Aging". At the end of a session about Longevity one participant came to me and said, "I do not think I would want to live that long.". My automatic response was, "well, then you won't". Why did I respond that way? Because I know the research about Dispositional Optimism shows that our bodies tend to live as long as we expect.
This is important. What we think, our attitude in life can affect how long we live. If you want to live a long life your chances are much better if you are a 'dispositionhal optimist'. (NOTE: There is a link to an article explaining Dispositional Optimism below.)
Some cultures discourage a long life. Unlike those described in The Blue Zones they offer little to support meaningful work and warm friends for a Centenarian. In these cultures (or subcultures) people retire and are 'put on the shelf'. They need to strive to 'keep themselves busy'. They travel a bit, pursue a hobby or two, volunteer but they no longer have a sense of meaningful contribution or even a consuming passion. Slowly their lives become restricted. They give up driving, have little meaningful contact with friends. Their weeks center on Sunday - the day they wait for their children to call. Everyone expects that they now only need help. No one sees in them a vital force ....and the do not seem themselves that way either. This is just the opposite of what is described in The Blue Zones!.
We need an engaged, meaningful role is we are to live a long time! And we are the ones who will to create that engagement.
What will you DO with your Longevity? DREAM. PLAN. DO. Do not fritter your years away. Do not spend hours thinking of aches and pains or waiting for the children to call. You can make a great life - build a new directions - fulfill dreams that you had to 'put on the shelf' - help create a new, vibrant world. And if you do, you will have developed one of the main characteristics of those who Have found the key to Longevity
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