Race to 100 (Longevity)
As I explore deeper into self-improvement, I came across a lot of literature written on longevity. I got so fascinated by the idea of people not just reaching their full potential as persons but living as long as they could.
Creating a paradigm to capture the relationship between the constructs “reaching one’s full potential” and “longevity” is a little bit tricky. Will the conceptual model show that the latter is an integral part (or the result) of the former? Which of the following questions should be answered – “Is living as long as a person could a part of reaching the maximum physical capability of their body?” or “Is longevity the result of being able to develop fully as a person?”
I think longevity should be viewed as a product of the efforts of people to reach their full potential. To say that living as long as people could is the result of them giving their physical bodies the maximum care only is tantamount to considering a person as a mere physical specimen. A person has, not just a body, but a mind and a spirit. In psychology, an individual is looked at as a physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual being. I believe that only when people are able to strike a perfect harmony among these different aspects of being that they could hope to have a shot at longevity.
The interest that longevity has been drawing from both the scientific community and the general public has seemingly created a new sport which I call “race to 100.” I signed up for the race. I want to celebrate my 100th birthday. It is my desire to be on my feet dancing and probably carrying one of my great-grandchildren (or would it be great great-grandchildren) when that happens. I don’t like to be in a wheelchair struggling to blow out those 100 candles.
Celebrating the 100th birthday is a milestone only a few were able to reach. Those who are lucky to live that long are called centenarians. The United Nation estimated that worldwide there are only more or less 600,000 centenarians. That’s less than 1% of the world’s total population of 8 billion people. Studies have shown that they live in certain locations in some countries which were designated as “blue zones.” Japan has the highest number of centenarians with more than 90,000.
When I told some of my friends about me wanting to be at least 100 years old, they said I am crazy to want to live that long. For them, they would be happy to live a few more years after their retirement. One of the reasons they would not want to go 80 and beyond is the possibility of them becoming weak and sickly and unable to fend for themselves. They are worried that their loved ones might just send them to nursing homes. One of them who happened to have visited an institution for elderly people lately told me that the pitiful physical, mental, and emotional condition of the old people she mingled with seemingly made her dread reaching advanced age.
That’s the most challenging part of the “race to 100” – getting there on your two feet and not aided by a wheelchair. Thus, it should be treated as a serious goal entailing careful planning and execution. It is definitely not a walk in the park. For those intending to join the race, it will help to know the life expectancy in the country where you live. In the whole world, it is currently pegged at 72.98 years. That’s the number of years an earthling can expect to live. Adding 20 or so more years is a tall order.
Genetics and environment play an important role in healthy aging and longevity. Thus, people aspiring to live way beyond their retirement age need to be aware of their family’s health histories for them to know if they have any genetic predisposition that should be addressed as early as possible. They need to ensure as well that they live in a conducive environment that would help them live healthier and longer.
The to-do list for people wanting to live as long as they could is as formidable as it could be. The list includes among other things slowing down aging, avoiding and curing diseases, staying healthy, striking a work-life balance, and keeping a robust wellbeing. All of the said undertakings are not easy to do.
There are procedures and treatments available to slow down aging. Most of them are skin-related. But it’s not only the skin cells that age. The tissues in our muscles, brain, heart, and other bodily organs succumb to the unforgiving hands of time as well. And available are natural and practical ways to slow down (if not reverse) it. What’s on top of the list is not surprising – proper nutrition and regular exercise. Eating the right kinds of foods and staying physically active help us stay healthy. Health experts claim that they contribute also to making us feel and look younger. Activities like getting enough sleep, meditation, and fasting intermittently or fully have been proven to contribute to longevity.
Additionally, it is also important to take a look at one’s lifestyle. Aside from genetics and the environment, how long people live is influenced also by their manner of living. Destructive habits like smoking should be avoided. How many times we have been told that smoking is known to cause illnesses that include heart disease and lung disorders. Scientists also found out that alcohol doesn’t only inflame the liver, it also infuses every cell causing damage to the genes. So, if drinking could not be completely avoided, at least it should be done moderately.
That’s how difficult the race to 100 is. As if those undertakings listed on the to-do list of people wanting to celebrate their 100th birthday are not already difficult, they must also observe self-discipline and sacrifice self-gratifying activities (of course only those that are classified as destructive). What makes joining this race a bit more challenging is the fact that it’s not just a matter of making sure that the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of your being are in tip-top shape as you march toward the century mark. It also entails financial stability to ensure that at least your basic needs – food, shelter, clothes, medicine, and what-have-you – are met. Part of the planning in racing to 100 is calculating how much money you’ll need.
If you save more than enough to secure all that you need as you run the race to 100 and you have plenty to spare, consider traveling to places you have never been and enjoy life. Enjoy aging, don’t gripe about it. Age gracefully and gratefully. A study concluded that “those who view growing older positively lived seven years longer than those who griped about it.” So, instead of griping and worrying, just prepare for its coming.