Live Long, Die Short

By Roger A. Shake, CFP®, RLP®, CeFT®                         June 2018

Dr. Roger Landry is the author of Live Long, Die Short – A Guide To Authentic Health and Successful Aging. I’ve read the book and it’s terrific. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Landry speak and share his 10 Tips to Achieve Authentic Health and Successful Aging. Here is a summary of his tips and some “Masterpiece Living Pearls” to consider in your life. As you read this list, make a mental note of how you are doing in each area.

1) Use It or Lose It – we must consistently use the physical, emotional, and social skills we wish to keep as we age.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Picture yourself on a typical day in five years: What does the day involve? How much walking? What brain and physical skills? What other people are involved?
  • Make a personal lifestyle plan for each of these skills or abilities. Remember, this is going to take some time; think small steps. What little actions can you add to each day to sharpen these skills for the future?

2) Keep Moving – physical activity, which has been systematically removed from our daily lives, is a fundamental requirement for successful aging.
Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Take note of how many steps you take each day using a step counter. Find the daily average number of steps over a three-day period. Then set a goal for increasing that daily amount using the principles of Kaizen (increasing by ever progressing in small amounts).
  • Take note of how you spend your time being sedentary or moving. Evaluate your routine and reorganize your time to include purposeful movement. It does not have to be sweat-inducing exertion; you just need to move.

3) Challenge Your Brain – with the discovery of neuroplasticity, the brains lifelong ability to rewire itself, we’ve come to understand that the brain is not a stagnant organ that inevitably declines in function over time. Rather, the brain has the capacity to adjust and grow in function throughout life as long as we continually challenge it.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Learn something new. Whether it is learning a few words of a new language, a new song, or finding a new route to the grocery store, do something different. Habits stagnate the brain, even if they seem comforting and familiar. It’s not about becoming an expert in something. It doesn’t matter if you fail. Start something new – be a beginner.

4) Stay Connected – we humans have a basic need to be connected with others in order to thrive.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Evaluate the people in your life that stimulate and energize you. Surround yourself with meaningful connections that nurture you.
  • Identify the people in your life who drain you. Purge your life of, or limit the time you spend with, those who make you feel bad about yourself, others or the world.

5) Lower Your Risks – we cannot ignore our lifestyle risks. We must first identify what they are and then manage them with knowledge and the assistance of experts.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Most diseases affecting us today are caused primarily by lifestyle and can be prevented by adopting healthy habits and taking preventive measures to eliminate or reduce them in order to build resilience.
  • Mitigate stress and minimize its effects with mindfulness, physical activity, social connection, adequate sleep, and eating well.
  • Regular checkups, cancer screenings, and working with your doctor to lower risks are sensible components of a successful aging strategy.

6) Never “Act Your Age” – we should not let anyone dictate how we should age or what expectations we have for aging. As long as we keep growing physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually, we will be successfully aging.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • We must challenge ourselves and take risks and even do things that scare us. When we take ourselves out of our comfort zone, we grow. Our immune system, brain, and muscles respond and grow with change.
  • Do something you’ve always wanted to do. It should be something of significance that you’ve given much thought to, but never did. Do something that you’ve given up ever doing because you became “too old.” Travel somewhere exotic, learn a new language or how to play an instrument – challenge yourself.
  • Do something that scares you. Challenge yourself to something that you’ve always avoided and use small steps to overcome it. Avoiding things due to fear limits your potential. Once you identify your fear, you can take steps to overcome it and continue to grow.

7) Wherever You Are…Be There – most of our stress is self-induced, the product of our unwillingness to acknowledge reality and the inevitability of change. This stress rots us from within, making us more likely to be unhealthy and age poorly. When our thoughts are consumed with the past or future, guilt, anxiety, regret, and sadness take hold and we are unable to experience the peace and joy of being present in the moment.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Try meditation or prayer. These simple acts can quiet the mind chatter that keeps us from being in the moment.
  • Be mindful of the fact that there are only three ways to deal with a problem you encounter: fix it, leave it, or accept it. All else is madness…and destructive to our bodies, minds, and souls.

8) Find Your Purpose – it is important for us to continue finding purpose throughout our lifetime. Without it, we wither and lose resilience.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Identify activities you engaged in earlier in life before responsibilities took precedence. Find opportunities to rediscover these areas of interest in order to gain a sense of fulfillment.
  • Do not hold yourself back by thinking that your purpose must be a prodigious undertaking. The only attribute of your chosen purpose is that it is meaningful for you and brings you joy. Even if it is new and scary, you’ll be better for it.

9) Have Children In Your Life – intergenerational contact has been the rule of our species and remains necessary for both young and old to be whole and more healthy.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Start small by spending time with the children in your family. Simply interact with them without any planned activities or agenda. Give them the gift of time. Dostoyevsky told us “the soul is healed by being with children.”
  • Volunteer your time at child-centric places. Visit schools and libraries to tutor children. Visit hospitals to keep young patients company or help with newborns. Sign up for programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters and become a mentor for a child in need.

10) Laugh To A Better Life – laughter is associated with a better aging experience. The reasons are just now becoming clear, but increased social interactions, positive physical effects, and a more robust immunologic system probably play a role. Optimistic people tend to live seven and a half years longer than negative people.

Masterpiece Living Pearls

  • Identify how you present yourself to the world. Notice the difference between when you are conscious of how you portray yourself versus your default look. Make an effort to not lapse into a neutral face that is often interpreted as sad or angry. Smile and present a more positive neutral look to the world. It will improve your interactions with others.
  • Spend more time with those with whom you laugh more and less with those who are consistently negative.
  • Laughter seems to boost our immune system, which has the potential to assist us in resisting cancer and infection, as well as a number of other threats to our good health and successful aging, and we feel much better while all this is happening.

Cheers to Living Long and Dying Short!

Masterpiece Living, LLC (www.mymasterpieceliving.com) was founded to assist communities in becoming destinations for continued growth as we age. Their work is based on the landmark 10-year study by the MacArthur Foundation that shattered the stereotypes of aging.

 

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