When it comes to our morality, there are many differing views. In terms of longevity people seem to either think that it is completely out of their control, that they will have the same fate as their parents because of their genes or, that there are factors including diet and lifestyle that play a role in how long we’ll live. But, which of these are correct? Or, are all of these correct? The fact of the matter is, that there are certain things that can predict a long and healthy life. But they are likely not what you’d expect.
When we think of health, we often think mostly of the physical, so if someone were to ask you, what shouldn’t you do if you want to live a long and healthy life? You might say something like, eat too much processed food, smoke cigarettes, drink too much, not get enough exercise etc. But what if, although those are still important factors for good health, they weren’t the most important and that there were some other factors that we likely don’t think about that play an even greater role in terms of how long we will live?
Susan Philips gave a Ted Talk about this very question, and she presented information from a study titled, Social Relationships & Mortality Risk. Here’s what she found…
Non-Physical Factors Are More Important
The findings of this study are likely not what we would have guessed would be the most important factor when it comes to longevity. It shows just how much human beings need and thrive off of human interaction. Above all else, having friends and family members close by will contribute to a long life. This is perhaps why the people who are living in the Blue Zones tend to live the longest, because they are together in community and interacting with each other on a regular basis. We need others to thrive. There are many cases of elderly couples where one passes away and then the other, who was seemingly in great health passes away shortly after. This is known as the heartbreak phenomena, and yes, you can quite literally die of a broken heart and being alone.
In Western cultures, often when our parents get old we ship them off to live in retirement homes, often here they spend a lot of time on their own without any meaningful connections. Hopefully this information helps you to realize the importance of maintaining strong relationships with your parents and/or grandparents into their old age, and maintaining a strong connection with your own children if you have them. Sure some families are estranged, but we all thrive with close friends whom we can call on and talk to on a regular basis.
Pick up the phone, call your Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa! Let them know that you’re thinking about them.