By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
The author of this book, “Dare to be 100: Point-by-Point Program for Living Long and Enjoying Life to Its Fullest” Walter Bortz II, a medical doctor who is focusing on the science of living a long life is now 92 years old as of year 2022, and is trying to be a living example of his book. A strong advocate on physical exercise to help people reach old age, he ran his last marathon in 2013 for his 80th birthday but has not run since. He nevertheless does not give up on his 100-year-old goal and replaces his running exercise with walking. He says being active is the key to old age along with a healthy diet and right attitude towards life. Below are some of his thoughtful advice.
Don’t Blame Your Genes
Many people don’t get to reach old age partly because of their genes’ mentality. Just because your parents did not reach old age of 90 or 100 does not mean you will not make it. You can beat your so-called genes with a determined mentality to reach old age. The author says, “Many scientific studies, including those which study longevity records of twins, conclude that inheritance has only 15 to 20 percent to do with how long you will live. In other words, ‘It’s not the cards you’re dealt that matter most, it’s how you play your hand.’” It’s not what state of health you have been given by the Lord, except of course if you have congenital disease that shortens your life, but how you take care of what you have been given. You can beat the odds if you want to.
The author says, “The most important step is the first. A journey of a hundred miles or years begins not with the first movement forward, but with the thought that precedes it. ‘The belief in 100’ is so important because you are moldable, shapable like clay under a sculptor’s hands—yours.” Fact is, if we don’t think it’s even a possibility to be vitally alive at 100, we won’t do the planning and take the actions necessary to make it a reality.
Paradox of Work
You feel you are unstoppable and, in a zone, when you are at work and not so much when you are at leisure. The term used by psychologists for this is “flow”. When you are in a “flow” you are so immersed and enjoying your work that time seems not to move. For superstar athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant this would be their “in a zone” moment when they feel they can’t miss their shots and eventually score above 50 points in a game. The concept of “flow” was initiated by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his famous book “Flow” who says that many people mistakenly think to be happy in life you must engage more in leisure rather in work. On the contrary happy people love their work. They would work beyond their retirement age, and would reach older than those who stay idle because of it. The idea here is to keep yourself active even at old age for it is when your body is slothful and lazy that you begin to deteriorate and die. Study shows that those who reached the age of 100, 89% of them report having worked hard in their lives.
The author says, “Studies have shown that connected people have less than half the mortality rates as lonely people, and the closer the relationships, the more powerful the survival effect.
Living alone is bad for your heart, bad for your immunity, bad for your mind. The key to keeping
laboratory rats alive is not nutritional nor medical care, but the simple availability of TLC (Tender Loving Care). Old rats live substantially longer merely because they are caressed.”
Having many friends goes without saying can extend your life. Of course, friendship is all about love and love is the main ingredient to a happy life and a happy life leads to a longer life. Nobody gets into old age with a pessimistic and miserable attitude in life.
Work with Stress
Stress which is the dreaded state of anxiety and worry that takes away our youth, should be managed rather than avoided. Many would avoid stress, but you can use it to your advantage to get into that “flow”, by looking it as a challenge to bring out the best in you. Walter Bortz says, “The secret to stress is to welcome it, work with it, and use its energy and challenges to make your life better. The most central ingredient in building a familiarity with dealing with stress is perspective. If you view every miniature departure from the routine as a threat of major consequence, then you are in for tough going. Stress expert Dr. Robert Eliot advises two things: “First, don’t sweat the little things, and second, everything is a little thing.”
Everything is a little thing. That’s a great advice. The thing that makes us worry now would not matter a year from now. I agree, but as long as we do something about our worries. Problems that are left alone will become a bigger problem later on or a year from now if not resolved. Just ask those who have neglected their health such as small tumors that went on to become cancerous a year later. Do your best in dealing with problems today and don’t leave it to rot and get worse tomorrow, and rest assured God will do the rest. And that sounds even better advice to me.