One thing that modern science is showing us is that we can have a dramatic impact upon our health and longevity! What we do may be as important a factor in how well we age as our number of years on the planet. This is new and exciting information!
Longevity is, at most, 25% predetermined by our genes; in other words, at least 75% is down to lifestyle factors that we have the power to influence. Put simply: We can lengthen or shorten our lives by the choices we make in how we live.
Some research is also tentatively suggesting that we may even be able to stave off dementia, or at least minimise the effects of the dementia process by adopting healthier behaviours.
According to medical and social research if we adopt a healthy lifestyle, even in middle age, we can add up to 14 years to our lifespan. And apparently it is never too late to start this process.
We are also being told:
One of the most exciting findings is that a major protection against the ageing process is if we have a positive view of ageing, and experience ongoing states of well being.
Why is this important?
There is a need for people to do the best to preserve their health – if not for their own quality of life, at least to ease the financial burden on the health and social care systems. This issue has been recognised by governments of all the developed countries – hence the proliferation of research and information over the last few years.
There are increasing numbers of people who are living longer; life expectancy is improving dramatically:
Isn’t this good news?
Yes it is great if you have a happy and worthwhile life…and you are healthy, but……
Remember that it is not inevitable for you to become increasingly sick and unhealthy as you age. For instance, keep in mind that most dementia is not genetic in origin – in other words we have some control over whether we get it or not through the choices we make in how we live.
It is therefore essential that we take responsibility and learn how to:
Is it all about living longer?
The emphatic answer to this question is ‘No’. If you live a long, healthy and useful life then living longer is good, but just aiming to live longer – a kind of ‘fountain of youth’ mentality is not what this programme is all about.
What then is the aim? Perhaps some of the following could be considered important (you may be able to add things to this list, and in fact one of the principles in the programme will guide you in doing this):
Whatever aims you decide to focus on, the key idea to keep in mind and which guides this whole approach is that …
You have some control over your own future
and remember that this is true at whatever age or in whichever state you realise and accept this.
This programme is essentially a guide for how to age well; although it could be perceived as a life philosophy it is more than this since it is based on published evidence of what appears to work. There is a great deal more to find out but what follows is a good place to start.
The programme is aimed at people who want to try to ensure a healthy ageing process. There are no guarantees because the research is still in its infancy; it is about maximising your chances of maintaining healthy brain function, living happily, with purpose, and maybe even living longer.
Octavius Black and Sebastian Bailey state in their 2005 best selling book, Mind Gym that the 1980’s was about caring for our bodies, the 1990’s was about growth in spiritual matters and the 2000’s is about improving our minds. I would add that the next obvious step is to integrate all 3 approaches together. This is not a new idea – it is only in our Western reductionist culture that we have separated mind, body and spirit – it is an idea germane to oriental life approaches, and many other more traditional cultural life views.
Welcome to the start of a great adventure!