A few years ago, my daughter Riley and I wrote a book, which emphasized that in order to live longer and better, you need to embrace life to the fullest. Here are the 10 steps of more, not less, that you must consider to ensure a happy, healthy and very long life.
MORE PASSION. Unless you are passionate about every task you undertake, success will elude you. You can retire from your job but not from life. Without a plan and tasks that give you passion, retirement will be dull, somnolent, sedentary and short. To succeed, retire with a plan. Those forced to retire or those with no outside interests will feel imprisoned in their homes and bored.
MORE PEACE. Stress is the single most important factor leading to disease. Stress raises blood pressure, leads to poor eating habits, less exercise and a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer. Meditation and relaxation prevent heart attacks, help to resolve conflict and promote health.
MORE LOVE. Love is the key to longevity. Men who maintain long-standing loving, monogamous and intimate relationships live 10 years longer than single men. Remember, love comes in many forms: the intimate love between spouses, love of family, community, friends and for one's country. By contrast, loneliness predicts illness and a shorter life span.
MORE LAUGHTER. Always look on the bright side and see the humor in your actions. Laughter improves metabolism and is infectious. Make others laugh and not only does your health improve but so does theirs.
MORE FAITH. There is a strong link between faith and health. It is not what faith or denomination you belong to but being spiritual that is important. The elements linking spirituality to health include having faith in a higher power, yourself and in others. Having hope is essential to health. When ill, being hopeful assures a greater chance of recovery and less suffering. And then there is love, a powerful element of good health. By contrast, isolation and loneliness predict ill health and a shorter life expectancy. And finally, being giving and forgiving are essential to a better life. Those volunteering 14 hours weekly live five years longer than those who do not.
MORE SELF-LOVE. It's time we start loving ourselves more. Feeling good about yourself and comfortable in your own skin is a powerful predictor of longevity. Self-love is similar to self-esteem but more expansive and encompassing. Loving yourself is the first step to loving others, and it will open the door to a world of peace and contentment.
MORE FOOD. It's not eating less that is important but eating more of the right foods in the right amounts. Lean meat and fatty fish, polyunsaturated fats (olive and canola oil), carbohydrates in moderation and all the fruits and vegetables you want are the cornerstone of a perfect diet. Snacks should include apples, nuts and yogurt.
MORE EXERCISE. If there were a longevity pill that could improve the quality of your life, give you energy and enthusiasm and prevent illness, it's exercise. Stretching, balance exercises, resistance training (with weights and aerobic exercise to increase the heart rate) are essential components of living a healthy life. The more you exercise, the better.
MORE EMPOWERMENT TO STAY HEALTHY AND TO NAVIGATE THE HEALTH SYSTEM. The more educated you are the better off you'll be. Know what it takes to stay healthy, and learn what to ask and how to become involved in the decision-making process should you become ill. Make sure you understand the diagnosis, treatment options, risks and benefits. You will benefit by being more involved.
MORE FREEDOM. At age 70, I feel just as good and healthy as at age 50. A big part of being healthy is being free to break the mold of what it means to be "older." Be free to retire and live where you want. Be free to work until the end. Be free to altogether start a new life. Be free to run for office or give back to the community. Be free to buck the trends and stop dieting. Be free to create and inspire. Be free to do whatever it is that gives you hope, inspiration and passion. This will not only change the face of aging in America but can also revolutionize the country as a whole.
Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. More information is available at: DrDavidHealth.com