Doing This May Be the Key to Living to 100
Want to live to 100? Chances are, something you’re already planning to do during the Fourth of July festivities can help you do just that.
The secret to living to a long and happy life, according to Susan Pinkera, psychologist and author of the new book, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and SmarterThe Village Effect, is having and spending time with good friends. Amazingly, spending time with your buddies promotes longevity as much as giving up a 20-cigarette-a-day habit. However, your Facebook “friends” won’t improve your health and longevity. In fact, these false friendships on social media are more likely to have a negative effect upon your well-being. Below is an adaptation of the findings of this fascinating book.
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Introducing the Centenarian Capital of the World — Sardinia
Pinkera discovered the link between friends and a long life through studying one of Europe’s poorest regions – the Italian island of Sardinia. As opposed to being an idyllic locale, the terrain is rugged and inhospitable, making tough demands on villagers. Yet instead of the hardships taking their toll on the residents, they seem to thrive, outliving people in other parts of Europe by decades. More centenarians live here than in any other place on earth.
The villagers seem to have discovered the fountain of youth, as most stay physically and mentally active well into their eighties and nineties. Moreover, unlike almost every other location on the globe, the men are as long-lived as the women. The male lifespan here is in stark contrast with that of the rest of Europe, where men seldom reach the age of 80.
The Key: a Tight Web of Kith and Kin
It was first postulated that the key to the residents’ longevity lay in diet, climate and genetics, but this theory was later proved erroneous. Researchers now believe the secret lies in a unique social factor that characterizes the community: the people are bound together in a tight web of kith and kin.
Sardinia’s residents display what psychologists refer to as “reciprocal altruism.” This phenomenon involves showing support and kindness without being asked because they know their good deeds will be reciprocated back to them by their fellow villagers. The culture of social cohesion is the natural way of life here.
Elderly are Cared for and Revered
Taking care of elderly family members is such an integral part of the culture that those who violate this principal are shunned. Residents consider it a privilege to listen to their centenarian relatives talk because of the experiences and wisdom they have. Instead of the elderly being merely tolerated as in some parts of the world, they are embraced and revered. Furthermore, rather than living their golden years in an institution, they live in a home, warmly surrounded by family.
The Village Effect Promotes Longevity as Much as Giving up Smoking 20 Cigarettes per Day
It isn’t feasible for those of us who live in industrialized countries to move to remote villages, so how can we imitate this way of life to enjoy the longevity benefits? A Harvard study shows men and women who have lost a spouse recover better and live longer if they reside among people in similar circumstances. This research verifies what Pinker calls The Village Effect. In essence, if people live among friends, people who understand them and who they trust and rely upon, they will be happier.
In the 21st century, many people live alone. When they are at home, they miss out on social elements that foster a feeling of connectedness such as impromptu conversations, eye contact and hugs. Isolated living can lead to loneliness, which is actually physically painful.
Chatting with friends serves an important biological function of forming bonds of connectivity. This is so crucial to well-being that research shows playing cards or meeting with friends for coffee once per week promotes longevity just as much as giving up smoking 20 cigarettes per day.
Internet Friendships Are Counterfeit
Relationships fostered through the internet aren’t face-to-face friendships. Cyber interactions don’t involve hearing the sound of the human voice with its incredible range of intonations, nor do they offer the opportunity to look into the eyes of another person and read their emotions. These relationships lead to loneliness because they aren’t genuine social interactions.
Moral of the Story
True friendship divides life’s sorrows and multiplies life’s joys. In addition, a handful of real-life friends are worth infinitely more than thousands of social media friends. Make time to meet with your buddies once a week. It could literally save your life.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.