The Key to Longevity
We have done a vast amount of speaking with people our age, and the single commonality our group has is a deep sense of purpose. This is the key, and it is what underlies everything. If there is a purpose, then there is a reason to stay alive longer and to engage in habits that cause that to happen. Fitness for the sake of fitness is entirely self-oriented and, ultimately, disappointing and boring. But fitness so that one can continue to be useful for as long as possible has power. Just as staying culturally engaged is essential if one wants a sense of agency with younger people and what’s needed.
Usefulness is the key to longevity. There. You want to know how to live a long time and live well? Get focused on being useful. Everything flows from that. It is perhaps easiest to see in people who don’t feel useful: a cascade of low self-esteem, anti-health behavior, avoidance of new ideas, isolation from other people….and a rapid decline. Want a wakeup call? Google the relationship between retirement and death. We have nothing against retirement, but, heads up, the sense of usefulness that one gets from work needs to be replaced with something else, and quickly. Another career, mentoring, church work, looking after a family member, community — it’s all great. What is 100% guaranteed to mess you up is sitting at home “relaxing,” taking comfort, watching television and checking out.