For billionaire philanthropist John Paul DeJoria, 74, longevity is all mental. He believes he’ll live to between 125 and 150 years old — “Somewhere in there.”
“If when you were born, you told everyone they would live to 150 years old, you would live to that age,” says John Paul. “Don’t let the old man in.”
Much has been written and studied about the power of positive thinking when it comes to stress reduction, improved immunity and other health benefits associated with living longer. A recently released study of 660 adults aged 50 and older from an Ohio community, published in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that people who had positive attitudes about aging lived more than seven years longer than those with negative attitudes. The study revealed that a positive attitude seemed to outweigh other known influences on survival such as loneliness, gender, tobacco use and even exercise.
Lifestyle Still Matters
Yet the power of positive thinking is just one part of the alchemy that allows us to live longer. Lifestyle choices make up the lion’s share of the rest.
DeJoria’s Foundation is supporter of research by Dr. Dean Ornish about how changes in diet, exercise, stress management and social support may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging.
Ornish has built a cottage industry of advice books on his belief that you can reverse disease associated with aging through diet. The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight and Gain Health, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Love & Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy & Health all attest to the belief that longevity is in our own hands. His newest book, Undo It, comes out in January 2019 and proposes lifestyle changes that can reverse chronic disease.
Trade Potatoes for Cauliflower
John Paul’s own approach involves a diet that is now 90 percent vegetarian. He eats fish once or twice a week, and when he does eat beef or chicken, he keeps the serving size to four ounces or less. “If somebody loves mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower.”
One of the most important — and one of the hardest for him — is to drink six to eight glasses of water each day. Helping that goal is regular exercise. John Paul gets in strength exercises, like push-ups and pull-ups, three days a week. The regimen is all for naught, however, without the right attitude.
“Number one is happiness,” he says. “If you’re happy, you’re going to live a lot longer. And if you’re happy, you’re going to be healthier.”