Dan Buettner travelled the globe and found societies where many people are living over 100 years. And these centenarians are not sitting at home or in retirement villages, or using advanced health care to get them there. The video Buettner brings back is surprising, and his advice may surprise you even more. Longevity in these regions is not only based on diet and physical fitness. It’s based on our relationships.
The commonalities between the societies include what you’d expect: A plant-based diet with little to no meat. It includes not eating to fullness, and an active lifestyle. In addition, Buettner finds another similarity: These people are self-sufficient. They walk or ride bikes to where they need to be. They are spiritual: They all have a sense of purpose. They respect their elders and put family first. The children take care of their parents when they reach old age. And they interact with the community.
Buettner puts together a compelling picture based on some real life information. The simple fact is, longer life means doing something of value and being valued. And really, this sense of purpose is something we all know. We just…got a little distracted.
“…when you think about it, your friends are long-term adventures, and therefore, perhaps the most significant thing you can do to add more years to your life, and life to your years.”
Every year around Christmas, we go shopping to get gifts for our family and friends. Christmas time is when we’re reminded that we should be giving to the people in our lives. To my credit, I’m on the look-out for things throughout the year for my friends and family. Thoughtful gifts are more…well, thoughtful. These past several years, though, have made me reassess my relationships.
Have you ever bought a gift for someone because it was expected as part of social convention? Some people have somehow settled into the Varsity squad of your relationships without trying out for the team. Don’t be afraid to bump them down. Think of it this way: You’re not omnipotent. You’ve got finite time and resources, and the more you spend them on getting gifts for acquaintances the less you have for the people who you value.
Secondly, I have found Christmas to be a time to review my emotional bank account with my family and friends. The bank account works like this: You and another share it, and each must contribute to it pretty equally in order to have mutual benefit. Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize there are people I do indeed value, and that no gifting makes up for having regular conversations with them to see what they’re doing, and more importantly, asking them how happy they are about it (that’s the emotion part). If I don’t know the motivations of the people I value, why do I value them, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve found a deficit in my bank account with people who I do value, and now I’m making it a point to stay in more regular contact with them. I don’t wait for them. I reach out first.
So, this Christmas, sort out whether you are sympathizing with the Grinch, or empathizing with him. If you’re empathizing, tune that emotional bank account so that you’ve got people in your life who you value and, just as important, who value you. If they don’t, then send them to the JV bench. It isn’t so bad.
I was sitting there for years.