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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.

Paano Nga Ba Dapat Sukatin Ang Tagumpay?

TAGUMPAYPaano nga ba?

Tignan muna natin ang kahulugan ng salitang tagumpay.

Ang tagumpay daw ay katuparan o kaganapan ng anumang plano o balak. Simple! Hindi ba? Kapag may binalak kang gawin at nangyari eh nakamit mo ang tagumpay. Pero ang tatanungin ng karamihan eh sa ginusto mong gawin na natupad mo naman eh ano ang napala mo? Yumaman ka ba? Sumikat ka ba?

Heto pa ang isang kahulugan ng tagumpay – “Ang pagkakamit ng yaman, katanyagan, at kapangyarihan.” Ang kahulugang ito ang ginagamit nating sukatan ng tagumpay. Tama ba?

Kung may pangarap kang natupad o bagay na nagawa sasabihing nagtagumpay ka kung dahil sa mga iyon ay nagkaroon ka ng maraming pera, nakilala ka, o kaya’y naging makapangyarihan ka.

Kaya tuwing ang pinaguusapan ay kung sino ang mga taong maituturing nating nagtagumpay ay kagyat nating naiisip ang mga bilyonaryong nasa listahan ng Forbes’ top billionaires katulad nina Jeff  Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckeberg at ang mga mayayamang Pilipino katulad ng mga Zobel, Ayala, Gokongwei at Sy. At ang susunod sa listahan ay ang mga sikat na artista, atleta, at mga makakapangyarihang pulitiko.

At sa ating mga kaybigan at mga kaklase ang mga itinuturing nating nagtagumpay eh iyong may mataas na pinagaralan at mga yumaman. Kaya nga kapag may class reunion eh hangang-hanga tayo sa kanila.

Pero iyong mga taong itunuturing nating matagumpay – iyong mga bilyonaryo’t milyonaryo, mga artista, mga pulitiko, at mga kaybigan natin at mga kaklase na mga titulado, maganda ang puwesto o trabaho at maraming pera – masaya ba sila?

Ang limpak-limpak ba nilang yaman, ang kanilang kasikatan, ang kanilang kapangyarihan,  at ang mga diploma, rango, at kanilang puwesto eh nakapagbigay ba sa kanila ng saya? Sila lamang, o ang mga taong malalapit sa kanila, ang pwedeng makasagot niyan.

Hindi natin alam kung totoo nga na ang mga mayayaman – dahil sa kagustuhan nilang mas dumami pa ang kanilang pera; ang mga kilalang artista – dahil sa kagustuhan nilang huwag mawala ang ningning ng kanilang kasikatan; at ang mga pulitiko – dahil ayaw nilang maagaw ang kanilang pwesto, eh sila’y hindi namumuhay ng normal. Hirap silang matulog sa gabi. Hindi daw sila masaya – marami daw silang mga agam-agam. Sana naman eh hindi totoo.

Ganoon pa man eh marami silang pera.

Pero, kaya bang bilhin ng pera ang kaligayahan ng tao? Maraming beses nang naitanong iyan. Muli kong itinanong hindi upang hanapin ang kasagutan kundi gusto kong pagbulay-bulayan lamang natin.

Kumustahin naman natin ang kanilang kalusugan. Kapag sinabi nating kalusugan eh hindi lamang katawan ang tinitignan. Meron tayong tinatawag sa English na physical, mental, at emotional health. Iyan ang pangkalahatang kalusugan.

Ang tanong – Ano kaya ang kalagayan ng kalusugan ng mga kilala nating mayayaman, sikat, at mga makapangyarihan? Wala ba silang malubhang sakit? Tahimik ba ang kanilang kalooban at pagiisip? Sila din lang, at ang mga taong malalapit sa kanila, ang nakakaalam kung ano ang totoo hinggil sa kanilang pangkalusugan.

Bakit sa pagtalakay ko ng tagumpay ay isiningit ko ang kaligayahan at kalusugan?

Simple lang. Ano ang halaga ng kayamanan, kasikatan, at kapangyarihan ng isang tao kung hindi naman siya masaya, meron siyang malubhang karamdaman, at hindi panatag ang kanyang isip at kalooban? Paano nating masasabing nagtagumpay ang tao kung dumami nga ang pera niya at naging kilala kung nakaratay naman siya sa banig ng karamadaman at miserable ang kanyang buhay?

Materyalistik kasi ang pananaw ng tao sa tagumpay. Sinusukat natin ang tagumpay sa dami ng pera, sa laki ng bahay, sa pagmamay-aring sasakyan, sa alahas, sa pinag-aralan, sa rango o puwesto, sa kasikatan… sa mga bagay na materyal at panandalian.

Paano na kung wala ka lahat niyon?

Eh paano naman ang mga simpleng tao na hindi nakapag-aral, walang naipong pera sa bangko, walang kotse at naninirahan sa isang simpleng bahay o kaya’y nangungupahan lang. Pero masaya sila, walang sakit, at ginagampanan ang ano mang simpleng tungkuling dapat nilang gampanan sa lipunan. Paano ang mga magsasaka at mga mangingisda na nagsisikap itaguyod ang kanilang pamilya at nagawa naman nila? Paano ang mga magulang na nagbanat ng buto at nakamit ang simpleng pangarap na mapagtapos sa pag-aaral ang kanilang mga anak? Hindi ba natin pwedeng sabihin na nakamit nila ang tagumpay?

Paano kung simpleng buhay lang ang hangad ng isang tao at ang tanging gusto niya eh mamuhay ng tahimik at matiwasay kasama ang kanyang mga mahal sa buhay, ang maging masaya at magkaraoon ng magandang kalusugan? Sabihin na nating natupad naman niya ang mga simple pangarap na iyon.  Hindi ba ito maituturing na pagtatagumpay?

Walang masama kung maghangad ang taong yumaman at sumikat. Walang masama kung magsisikap ang tao, mag-aral at mag-ambisyon… magkaroon ng pangalan. Basta’t sa bandang dulo, sa dapit-hapon ng isang araw o ng buhay, eh walang kang pagsisihan.

Sa bandang huli eh kanya-kanya ng panuntunan sa buhay ang tao. Bawat isa sa atin eh may sariling sukatan ng tagumpay. Ang sa akin lang eh mas masarap namnamin ang tagumpay na nakangiti ka’t walang pinagsisihan, malusog ang pangangatawan, at tahimik ang kalooban at isipan.

At maniwala ka man sa akin o hindi, matatangap mo ang tunay na tagumpay kung matibay ang paniniwala mo sa iyong sarili at nananalig ka sa Dakilang Maykapal.

Defining Success

thekeytosuccessHow do you view success? How do you measure it? These two are the usual questions whenever the topic is discussed. But I think the more important question that should be asked is – Do you consider yourself successful?

Before you answer those questions, let’s revisit the definition of the word. Let’s check  how online dictionaries define success.

Cambridge’s definition of the word is something broad  – “The achieving of the results wanted or hoped for.” Colin’s goes – “The achievement of something that you have been trying to do.” Oxford is more specific with its definition – “The attainment of fame, wealth or social status.” Merriam-Webster’s is almost the same as Oxford’s – “The attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.”.

Our favorite research assistant  – “Dr. Google” – says that success is  “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and “the attainment of popularity and profit.”

Let’s also check the synonyms: prosperity, affluence , wealth, riches, opulence, and triumph.

I hope that the foregoing definitions and synonyms are sufficient to help you come out with meaningful and definitive answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of this article. And by the way, do the ideas conveyed by those definitions and synonyms jibe with what you think success is?

The definitions and synonyms above actually show  the way people in our society quantify  success. They tell us about the measuring sticks being used by most people, including you probably, to determine whether or not a person is successful. Everything boil down to one or a combination of the following: wealth, fame and power.

So, when asked who are the most successful people in the world, people never fail to mention the names of the world’s richest men – Jess Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the others who are listed in Forbes’ top 10 world’s billionaires . The next ones in our lists are the showbiz, sports, media, and political personalities. We also remember the names of quite a few people – some of them could be our own friends –  who excel in their respective fields of endeavors when we discuss about successful people.

Now, let me ask some questions.

Are those people we consider  successful happy also? Have the money, fame, power, and accomplishment they possess brought them happiness? They are the only ones, or their relatives (or their close friends and confidants), who could answer those questions. People outside of their inner circle could only make speculations and assumptions.

Many believe that rich people live under the constant pressure of  wanting to amass more wealth – famous people to ensure that their stars keep shining – politicians to perpetuate themselves to power – so much so  that they forget to live a life. Thus, they are perceived to be unhappy.

At least, they have the money.

“But can their money buy them happiness?” This question has been asked so many times that it could be considered meaningless already. But in the light of the present discussion it should be asked, not for the purpose of having it answered, but as a point to ponder on.

We presume that with all the luxuries the money of  the wealthy, famous and powerful could afford, it’s almost impossible that they are not happy. Unless it is true that of the needs which Maslow’s identified in the hierarchy of needs, only the basic ones (physiological and safety) could be covered by money. The psychological needs (esteem needs, belongingness and love needs) and self-fulfillment needs are definitely not available in the shelves of even the most expensive stores.

Here is the next question I would like to  ask – “Are they healthy?”

They are already rich, famous, and powerful. They are truly blessed if they are also in good shape. Of course they are – financially. What about physically, emotionally, and mentally? In their quest for riches, fame and power, did they not sacrifice their health, values, and relationships? While they sit on their thrones clutching their coffer, do they feel peace flowing within them? Again, they are the only ones, and the people around them, who could give a definite answer. They are the only ones who know whether or not they are suffering from any debilitating disease, mental anguish, and emotional stress?

I brought out the questions on happiness and health in the discussion of success because I believe that there is a need to strike balance between the ephemeral and the ethereal when defining the concept. The prevailing  view of success is materialistic. We attach tangible proofs to it – money, big house, new car, degree, job title, a certain body type, etc. I am not saying that such act (of attaching those tangible proofs to success) is wrong. I just consider it as not encompassing.

Why?

What about simple people who did not attend school, don’t have cars, and live in simple houses in far-flung farming and fishing villages happily living a simple life and diligently performing their role in society? Can’t they not be considered successful in their own right?

When you don’t have a mansion – a car – fancy clothes – expensive jewelry – a university degree – huge amount in the bank, when you’re not famous and not powerful, when you’re  just an ordinary decent individual honestly earning a living and contended with what you have and what you’re capable of achieving and you’re happy and  healthy, would people not consider you successful?

If a person’s goal is to be happy and healthy and he/she achieves it, isn’t that success?

Correlating happiness and health to success is a kind of paradigm shift that will make capitalists unhappy. It is the materialistic view of success that keeps most of their present business ventures alive.

Well, we define success in different ways. Success is subjective and I think that nobody could claim that their way of looking at it is the right one.

The most valuable lesson I learned about success is this – define it for yourself. Don’t allow other people to define success for you. Don’t subscribe to the standards they set. You know your capabilities and limitations more than anyone else, factor them when setting your success parameters. But be not satisfied with your current skill set. You have to improve and as you see yourself becoming better set the bars of your success higher. And most importantly,  don’t forget that as you march towards the achievement of your simplest goals and the realization of your grandest ambitions, you should not sacrifice your happiness and health.

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