Aging is always on-going. However, living a high quality aging life may slow aging down or even, in a very important way, make you feel younger. The cultures with the longest living people can show you exactly how a high quality aging life should be lived. Make as many of these qualities a habit in your life and, hopefully, you too can experience a healthier aging life.
The folks who live in the Southern islands of Okinawa, Japan are noted for their long life. The Okinawan lifestyle is embedded with ten habits that promote healthy aging. Habits that we can learn, and with a little effort, embed into our own personal lifestyle.
(click on any habit to go to that heading)
This can also be done by eating small amounts but more often. One thing I like to do is use a small bowl or plate to help make the portions smaller and eat slowly. This is really the best way to maximize youself feeling full when eating small portions is to eat slowly; chew thoroughly; and enjoy.
And finally, I try to eat around 6pm making a nice meal with a lot of vegetables. I normally cook the vegetables (al dente-firm and tasty) with noodles-buckwheat or udon. Because I add a lot of vegetables I end up with two portions and save the second for th next day. Which leads me to…
There’s nothing like fresh vegetables. Your typical centenarian will most likely have never, ever been on a diet nor experienced being obese. That’s because they made vegetables the largest part of their diets. It’s easy to do. Try, as an experiment, snacking with different vegetables. For myself, I love to snack on broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower. To me, organic fresh cauliflower is the “candy” of vegetables. So sweet and crunchy to eat.
Another one of my morning favorites is Natto (Japenese fermented soybeans) mixed with brown rice and vegetables. I don’t cook the vegetables, the heat of the brown rice cooks them perfect for me. I sometimes use beans that I've cooked in a crockpot.
Rounding out Nature’s plant life are the variety of nuts that make for great snacks and can go well with cooked dishes. I love cooking with walnuts. Chop up some walnuts; chop up some red onions along with some chopped up spinach and sprouts, gently stir fry with olive oil along with some spices and there you have a very tasty veggie-omelet. I love to add a bit of tabasco as a nice spicy morning kicker.
The take away message: Choose the food that’s brought to you by Mother Nature.
Many centenarians, especially the ones that hail from Europe near the Mediterranean, drink moderate amounts of Red wine.
So what is a safe moderation? First, we need a formula: The percent alcohol is equal to the number of units in one liter. The recommendation for men is not to drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day on a regular basis-regular means drinking every day or most days of the week. For women, it’s 2 to 3 units a day on a regular basis. Here’s an example to help clarify: a strong beer weighing in at 6%, using the formula, will have 6-units in one liter. If you drink just 500 ml (half-liter), than you have reached your recommended level of 3 units for both men and women
And of course, if you have any signs of cirrhosis of the liver, or have had hepatitis than you need to see a doctor and stay away from alcohol.
I’m not talking of going to the gym, of course that will be a definite plus, remember, centenarians most likely never went to a gym just to work out and get physical. They puttered around their gardens, walked to the neighborhood store to do their shopping, or took a leisurely stroll over to there friends house for a friendly visit.
All you have to do, is think of ways you can make little physical activities a part of your daily living. Things like taking the stairs, going for a walk or doing some Tai Chi during a break, riding your bike to the neighborhood store rather than taking the car.
The worse thing you can do is sit for long periods of time. Set a timer to get yourself out of your seat. One of my favorite break time activities is to jump rope or do some stepping exercise. Hold one hand on the guard rail, step up with your right foot followed by your left 10-times, repeat again starting with you left foot.
It’s really that simple! Find ways to make yourself physically move on a regular basis and it doesn’t have to be strenuous.
Do you remember the last time you were excited about something? You went after it like a dog with a bone in its teeth, you would never let go you just hung in there and saw it through to completion. Sometimes we lose that drive. We need to get ourselves renewed and re-invigorated again with a sense of strong purpose.
To do that, it may be a good idea to first “have a think”, as Robert Frost would say. Think about a time, a place, a moment where or when you had a strong desire or strong purpose for doing something. Relive that moment, feel that moment, and ask yourself, what is there in my life, in this world, at this very moment, that arouses those feelings now!
If that doesn’t work for you, try this. Get yourself relaxed and write down all the things that you are interested in, care about, wish to do, are part of your bucket list. Write whatever comes to mind, and if nothing comes to mind, write the positive, upbeat feelings you want to have.
If for some reason you have nothing in your memories to get excited about it’s most likely because of the mental state you’ve “chosen” to be in. So let’s change it. Let’s choose a better mental state.
Start with imagining a situation that has happened either recently, on the news, an action-packed movie you just watched. Now imagine you were there, you fixed it, you made it better, you were the hero of the moment. Now look at what you imagined, can you relate that to anything that is in the present?
How about an example, the movie, “The Avengers”. Imagine you’re Captain America. You’re fighting those evil-McNasty aliens. You beat them to smithereens. Really fill your imagination with lots of action. Lots of feeling. You won, you’re standing high above looking down on the carnage of aliens that you’ve wiped out. Now…..is there anything around you, near you, in your home town, in your life that you can relate this to….continuing with the example…
Let’s say your town is hit hard by the recession. Folks are feeling down. Folks are losing money. Losing hope. What can you, Captain America, do to help fight those alien feelings? Can you organize a play, can you get folks who play music come together to perform a concert. Can you organize a food drive for the poor? Are there dogs on the loose? Can you help find them a home?
Hopefully you’ll get rekindled with a fire of strong desire, with a powerful sense of purpose. If not, try going through the steps above in a different place, at a different time. Sometimes, a different time and place can trigger your desire, your purpose.
Making a difference in someone’s life, helping others, watching your children and grandchildren grow, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to fly a glider (my father did this 🙂 ), completing your bucket list.
Now this is an interesting habit, because prayer and spirituality can be done with a simple thought of gratitude and appreciation for what you have, no matter how little you may have. Being thankful is another way to connect to the Infinite.
There’s a lifetime of things to be grateful for like the sun, the rain, the trees, grass, and flowers, family, friends, the trains, the planes, car and bicycles anything that helps make life easier, along with anything that brings beauty and harmony to our soul.
Of course, worship and being grateful are powerful habits. You’re letting your inner soul of your being connect to something greater than you. That connection allows us to feel a part of something that is so much greater than our physical self. The connection with God, or the Spirit you choose to believe in, will most definitely improve your expiration date in addition to making all those days healthier for you to live in body, mind and spirit.
Slow your life down so you can add more richness, variety, and enjoyment simply by staying in the moment. A healthy stress-free life is one where you give yourself, your heart and mind some enjoyment time by seeking simple pleasures in the moment.
The day can be filled with a lot of enriching moments, catching the smell of blossoming flowers, something good coming from some ones stove, clouds floating by, sunsets and sunrises, a gentle wind or a gentle rain all can be soothing if you take the moment of now to enjoy it.
Something to note. You’ll often see centenarians walking around with a smile on their face. Do the same! It’s surprising how wearing a smile can actually make you feel fuzzy good inside.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape — Michael McGriffy, M.D. (quoted in Getting Things Done, 2001, p-40, David Allen)
The take away message: Keep life simple and you’ll simply live longer and healthier.
This habit falls into place fairly easily when you are making the habit of keeping life simple. One of the things that my mom and dad taught us were family rituals. Some rituals all families do, celebrate birthdays, and special occasions. One special ritual I loved was when we, my two older brothers and myself were just kids, my father was a traveling salesman. Left on Monday and wouldn’t return until Friday. During dinner when dad was on the road, mom shared the stories of how they met, how she grew up. Dad always called every night before our bedtime. And when dad came home on Friday, we were going to have fish for dinner. Even though we were not Catholics, fish was always cheap on Fridays and fish it was. I personally loved it. Fresh haddock, swordfish with butter, and of course good old fashioned Cod. The house smelled like a fishery on Fridays. Oh, and by the way, dad was the cook in our family.
Now I don’t keep the ritual of fish every Friday, but when I want to honor my mom and dad, I go out to a nice Japanese sushi restaurant, the one with a conveyer belt where you can pick and choose to your hearts delight. The price of the sushi is based on the design of the plate. And if I do a take-out, I get the added benefit of not having my apartment smell like a fishery 🙂
Another ritual, when I was just a little guy, around 7 or 8 years old, mom would help me buy Christmas presents for cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, and grandparents. She showed me that just a simple gift, like a multi-outlet plug, is just as thoughtful as clock radio or something more expensive.
Most centenarians are blessed with large families. But it’s not the size that’s important, it’s the amount of love that’s given and shared among the family members.
The take away message: Spending quality time (Loving Rituals) with your loved ones will add quality days to your life.
There’s a lot of good health with a friend that you enjoy being with, confide with, and share great times together. There’s an immense amount of good feeling when you volunteer, when you help someone. That same good feeling when you have helped your friend is returned to you in the form of healthier days to live.
Your energy spirit soars when you’ve done some one good-stranger or friend. The goodness from the heart, to help others in need, to be connected socially has a caring human, like loving your family members, makes for a healthier heart to beat throughout your golden days.
Sleep is the time when your body regenerates itself. You know when you have gotten a good night’s sleep. You feel so raring and ready to go. And that’s raring and ready to go in a healthy body that’s been totally recharged.
Focus on one healthy habit at a time. Less is more. Focus your energies on making one of the above centenarian habits on aging one of your healthy aging habits.
Research has shown that on an average, 66 days make a new habit stick. No, not 21 days as you have probably read some where on the informative world wide web, you need more time. Here’s why. First you must realize, this is not an easy habit to make a permanent part of you. That’s why it’s so important to choose just one centenarian aging habit first. Concentrate on it for 66 days, maybe more or less, but until you feel that you really have that habit as a part of your healthy living lifestyle.
Now if you can get one habit embedded into your healthy living, you can easily do another one. When you have ingrained these healthy aging habits into your wellbeing, then you have chosen a path that will help your chances to live your longest and healthiest possible life.