14 Longevity Lifestyle Components
©Arlene R. Taylor, PhD
- PAC mindset. Everything starts in the brain and it begins with mindset. Develop a PAC mindset and take it with you everywhere. PAC is an acronym for Positive, Active, and Creative, the type of mindset that provides the foundation and direction for your Longevity Lifestyle. Maximize a ‘growth’ mindset with a can-do attitude. If you have an enemy outpostof negativityinside your brain, get rid of it. Learn to flip the switch from a negative to a positive mindset. Avoid worry and anxiety. They can trigger the stress response, suppress immune system function, create even more problems for you to handle, and rarely (if ever) solve anything.
- Positive self-talk style. Take responsibility for your self-talk. Tell your brain what you are doing as if it’s a done deal and stop talking about what you don’t want to have happen. Avoid using words such as don’t, can’t, shouldn’t and won’t. Use positive, short phrases and sentences in the present tense. When you say, “I am going to,” or “Next week I will,” the brain tends to pick up on the future tense and does little to help you. Imagine it as thinking: that is then and this is now. When now arrives, if you still want to do it, I’ll help you. Rather than using ‘I’ and ‘me’ that tend to trigger self-esteem issues and egocentricity, speak to yourself using your ‘given name’ and the pronoun ‘you.’ For example: ‘Harry, you drink a big glass of water before each meal,’ or ‘Susie, you are at the gym three times a week.’ It is a double bonus to develop effective self-talk, as studies suggest you tend to communicate with others in the way you talk to yourself.
- High EQ. Raise your Emotional Intelligence Quotient. It plays into your Success Quotient or SQ: IQ plus EQ equals SQ. Estimates are that IQ contributes only 20 percent to your overall success in life, while EQ contributes at least 80 percent (another 20:80 Rule). Avoid JOT behaviors: Jumping to conclusions, Overreacting, and Taking thing personally. Learn to identify core emotions quickly, recognize the information they are trying to communicate (from the subconscious to the conscious mind), and manage them effectively. Feelings follow thoughts. If you don’t like the way you feel, change the way you think. Consciously choose the feelings you want to maintain over time. Minimize emotional eating as a crutch to feel better. Be honest about addictive-like behaviors. Remember the biggest ‘cure’ for one addictive behavior is another addictive behavior. Get help to create new, healthier habit patterns, as needed.
- Physical activity. Move it or lose it. Physical exercise is one of the most important things you can do to retain brain function. Minimize sitting and maximize physical activity. Aim to exercise for thirty minutes each a day, in sections of ten or fifteen minutes, if you prefer. Physical activity and exercise help tone your body, promote balance (homeostasis), strengthen your heart muscles, and enhance deep breathing. Include a combination of stretching, aerobic, balance, and flexibility exercises. Variety is key to keep your brain interested and motivated. Select activities you enjoy and have fun doing them by yourself or with others.
- Brain Stimulation. Engage in stimulating, mental activities for at least thirty minutes a day to keep your brain active—a gift to yourself and everyone who knows you. Minimize passive mental activities, such as zoning out in front of the TV. Maximize active mental picturing. Include a variety of brain aerobic exercises to keep your mind interested and alert. Read and listen to books on tape. Read aloud for ten minutes every day—to yourself, your pet, or to others. Play mental and word games. Travel (locally or abroad) to expose your brain to new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, people, and environments. Include music in your life and favorite hobbies. Hone your creativity in any way that works for you. A healthy body without a healthy brain is less than half the picture.
- Optimum sleep. Obtain the optimum amount of sleep your brain needs. Sleep deprivation can drain your energy and accelerating the process of aging. Sleep is independently linked with longevity. Insufficient amounts of sleep can suppress both brain and immune system functions, trigger weight gain, and shorten your potential longevity. Sleep in as dark a room as possible to avoid interfering with melatonin production. Take a fifteen-minute nap during the day if you missed sleep the night before. Tell your brain: ‘Joe, (Janet), you go to sleep quickly and easily and sleep ____ hours.’ You wake refreshed and energetic.’
- Appropriate hydration. Dehydration is deadly. It can increase the production of free radicals, which can wrinkle your internal organs, as well as your skin. Learn to differentiate between genuine physiological hunger and thirst. Unless medically contraindicated, drink enough pure water to have one or two pale urines per day. Drink a glass of water fifteen to thirty minutes before you plan to eat a meal. That can help to ensure you are eating from hunger rather than thirst.
- Brain-Body Safety. Safety is vitally important. Avoid brain trauma in every way possible (e.g., protect your ears and save your hearing, avoid pugilistic sports, arrange your environment to prevent falls, broken bones, or head injuries, wear a helmet when bike-riding and for other sports activities such as skiing and skate-boarding). If you smoke, stop; if you don’t smoke, never start. Avoid inhaling side-smoke, insofar as it is possible to do so. Avoid, or minimize exposure, to radiation, toxins, poisons, vehicle exhaust, air pollution, and infections when it is possible to do so. Protect your brain mentally, too. Be careful what you put into it. You only have one brain and neurons typically do not replace themselves, as do most other body cells. Take care of your neurons!
- Exposure toSunlight. Plants cannot thrive without exposure to natural light. Neither can people. Flood your home with sunlight and obtain moderate exposure to natural light, but minimize direct exposure to bright sun, especially during mid-day. Also avoid sunburn, tanning parlors, and ultraviolet light, as they can increase your risk for skin cancer and are believed to suppress immune system function. Use protection when in bright sunlight. Wear a hat when at the beach and consider dark glasses, as this may lower your risk of developing macular degeneration.
- Healthy nutrition. Emphasize a Mediterranean cuisine. Read labels carefully. Lean toward plant-based unrefined and unprocessed foods. Eat when you are physiologically hungry. Minimize empty calories and maximize nutritious calories. Minimize chew-less foods and maximize chewy ones. Minimize snacking and maximize regular mealtimes. Rotate bites of food types to keep up taste-bud flavor intensity. When you choose to eat dessert, take only two or three bites. After the first few bites, you tend to be eating largely from memory anyway.
- Laughter and Play. Be serious about life but avoid taking every little thing too seriously. Life is relatively short—years against eons. Make your life count and have fun in the process. Schedule regular opportunities for play, relaxation, fun, and variety. As the old saying goes: a change is as good as a rest. Hone your sense of humor. Figure out what tickles your funny bone and make time for it. Laugh mirthfully a minimum of thirty times per day. Very happy people reportedly laugh between one hundred and four hundred times a day! How much do you laugh?
- Support Network. Select your close friends carefully. According to Jim Rohn, you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Is that who you want to be? Studies estimate that within three years, you are at risk for picking up the habits of those with whom you spend the most time, especially for happiness, smoking, health, and obesity. The people you hang out with matter! Choose friends who are smart, affirming, upbeat, reciprocal, and on a Longevity Lifestyle. Reinforce each other’s efforts and increase your likelihood of success. Be brave enough to let go of those who are abusive or who drag you down. Become the person you would like to have as your best friend. After all, you are the only person who will be with you for your entire life. As you become that person, you will more naturally be attracted to and become attractive to others who are on a similar developmental quest.
- Stress Management. Manage negative stressors effectively. Unmanaged stress triggers the release of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenalin, which can kill brain cells (contributing to dementia), accelerate aging, suppress immune system and brain functions, and trigger eating outside of nutritional balance—when maintained over time. Engage in family-of-origin work to identify behavioral patterns and habits common to your family system that may be impacting your choices now. Live the 20:80 Rule: Estimates are that only 20 percent of the negative impact to your brain and body is due to the event or situation itself; 80 percent is due to your perception of the event, the importance you place upon it, and the weight you give to it.
- Life Satisfaction. Craft your own personal life vision. Hone your spirituality—the spirit with which you live life. Do something every day to evoke a sense of awe in your brain and your spirit. Live in a state of gratitude. Being grateful has been shown to help delay gratification. Assist others, volunteer, and give back to the community. Consider doing random acts of kindness on a regular basis. Surround yourself with those who:
- Possess a healthy superego that motivates them toward healthy self-care of both brain and body
- Choose a positive mindset
- Utilize optimum self-talk patterns
- Have a good sense of humor and laugh a lot
- Are wise and supportive
- Make healthier choices with the big picture in view
- Learn information, turn it into knowledge, and practically apply it on a daily basis
- Are on Longevity Lifestyle journey.
Do something to improve your corner of the world and make it a better place to live. Role model a Longevity Lifestyle and leave a positive and memorable legacy.