In the March, 2017, edition of the AARP Bulletin (yes, I’m a proud card-carrying member of the AARP), there’s an article titled “50 Great Ways to Live Longer”. The list includes obvious activities like getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, staying hydrated and eating your veggies, as well as more surprising actions like taking vitamin D regularly and drinking three to five cups of coffee a day.
What interested me most though were 5 activities that I would classify as spiritual in nature. I’ve written about each of these actions in the past, so below you’ll find a quick write-up of each “great way”, followed by a link to a more detailed story on the subject for those who want to take a deeper dive.
- Find your purpose. As the AARP article points out, one key to happiness is being able to wake up each morning and look forward to something, like “helping your children or interacting in a community of like-minded folks.” Yet, I believe we need to go a step further and identify our calling—the activity in life at the intersection of what we’re good at and what we like to do. See: Finding your way on the winding path we call life.
- Embrace your faith. The story says that researchers have found “attending religious services have been shown to add between four and 14 years to life expectancy”. But if you’re like many who find themselves on the pages of Patheos Spirituality, you may have given up on organized religion. No problem. You can still embrace the spiritual side of yourself by starting your own religious practice that you engage in daily. See: A Ten Step Guide to starting your own religious practice.
- Vacation…or else. One study showed that for men at high risk of coronary artery disease, “those who failed to take annual vacations were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.” Yet we all know that if you’re working a full-time job, it can be tough to get away as much as we would like or for as long as we would like. Which is why we need to work micro-vacations into our life. See: How a Pocket of Stillness can help you find Inner Peace.
- Get social. The article reports that “loneliness increases the risk of early death by 45 percent,” weakening the immune system, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes. The issue: Many of us are stuck in our routines and don’t do enough to interact with those around us. John Templeton provides some great advice on being more social with an easy way to connect with al you encounter. See: How to be an even better you (by remembering 3 simple things).
- Walk. “What’s the best prescription for a longer life? Exercise.” I’ve long included exercise as part of my morning ritual, my early morning run serving as a meditation session in motion. If you don’t like running or walking, then find a way, anyway, to move on a regular basis: swim, dance, bike, take a fitness class, whatever. Just do something. See: Jack LaLanne on improving your spiritual and mental well-being in 10 easy steps.