Stress in the Lives of Those Who Lived To 100
Stress in the Lives of Those Who Lived To Hundred
A century of life. Some believe it is given as a reward for a life well lived. Others have known people that are so abrasive and yet long-lived that we say they are just "too mean to die." Yet in reality when we look at the rapidly growing demographic of centenarians worldwide, one thing seems constant - these folks have found remarkable ways to deal with, or eliminate, stress in their lives. Ma Pampo is the celebrated world's oldest person, she died recently at 128 and worked hard most of her life. Yet, in addition to practicing a healthy diet she lived in the idyllic setting of a tropical island in a very stress-free and clean environment. Attitude seems to have a lot to do with longevity as well. Ma Pampo in her interview for Time magazine at 125, said she planned on seeing her 130th birthday. She said she always had a positive attitude no matter what life threw at her.
The Benefits of Stress Reduction
Study after study has pointed out the detrimental effects on health caused by physical and emotional stress. This is a documented fact. So by implication, reducing stress and improving health would theoretically increase lifespan. But is there a direct correlation between reducing stress, moving toward positive values and living longer? Renowned social-biologist and spiritual advisor, Dr. Deepak Chopra, would seem to think so. Dr. Chopra has observed that the oldest people around today are not just some random survivors, but seem to be those individuals who embody positive attitudes and values. Dr. Chopra has gone on to say that enhancing inner happiness and fulfilment, is the surest way to defeat aging in a lifelong, meaningful way.
Dr. Chopra interviewed a centenarian named Maurice, who offered the following prescription for a life of 100 years or more:
- Maintain a placid or easygoing personality
- Exercise and get plenty of fresh air
- Eat frugally
- Enjoy your work
- Drink wholesome liquids
- Abstain from stimulants and sedatives
- Get enough rest of rest, but not too much sleep
- Enjoy an active yet reasonable sex life
- Get proper medical attention in case of illness
Honor Thornhill, another notable centenarian, says she owes her good fortune to "doing good". In interviews Thornhill has stated, "as long as God gives you life, do good all your day, so wherever you go, it will follow you." Or as behaviourists would put it when we do good the mind is not bogged down with the emotional stress of guilt or regret. These negative emotions are known to cause bodily reactions, leading to stress and tension, which in turn causes more rapid aging.
Thomas Perls, the director of the New England Centenarian Study, has dedicated his career to studying the growing population of centenarians. Among his findings he sees one consistent common feature among centenarians; that whatever their coping mechanism, they do not seem to let stress bother them. Says Perls, "These people are able shed stress. Stress does not get causing them to age more rapidly. They don't internalise things the way most of us do"
Living Well at Any Age
Today we are experiencing a remarkable growth in the number of centenarians worldwide. Perhaps by returning to a more simple and natural way of living and by improving our attitudes by moving towards positive values an away from negativity, we can join them. In any event such practices are bound to result in a more healthy, fulfilling and rewarding life.
Science still does not have any sure way of predicating who will live to 100 or more. Certainly there is no specific "centenarian gene". But by adopting the techniques used by centenarians we can learn to live well and live better at any age - and who knows maybe even become one of the fastest growing populations on the planet - the centenarians.