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Life Purpose


February 24, 2017

One of the purposes of this column is to educate people to the fact that there is another way of looking at life, another way to stay healthy and happy. Although what I do and teach is considered “Alternative” medicine, it has been used for thousands of years

There is scientific research into what it is that promotes longevity. There seems to be certain personality traits that characterize centenarians. Optimism is one of them. Another is having a purpose in life. A third is always learning something new; looking towards the future instead of the past.

One study found that happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, and other positive psychological attributes are associated with a lower risk of degenerative diseases. It’s even been scientifically shown that happiness can alter genes. Even if you were told that you have the genes for a certain disease know that this need not be. By your attitudes you turn those genes on or off.

But what if you’re not already optimistic, happy, satisfied, and living with a sense of purpose; what do you do then? Not to worry. The reality is you can change your attitude. This includes: Surrounding yourself with reminders, such as photos or mementos, of happy times; Regularly expressing gratitude; Complementing people on things you like or appreciate about them; Practicing mindfulness; Being compassionate.

Having a purpose in life increases our immunity to the degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, strokes, and Alzheimer’s. The level of conscientiousness, specifically, was identified as a marker for longevity.

The reason for this, the researchers believe, is because conscientious behavior, having a life purpose, influences other behaviors. Conscientious people tend to make healthier choices, choosing work they enjoy, and life partners they get along with—factors that have a significant impact on their stress level and general contentment. Conscientious people also tend to be more productive, even past conventional retirement age, and tend to regard their work as having purpose.

It’s been proven that the brain can not only generate new cells (a process called neurogenesis), you actually have far more control over your brain and mind than you might think. Despite what you may have been told or read, the brain is not “programmed” to shrink and fail as you age. The foods you eat, the amount of movement or exercise you do, your emotional states, your sleep habits, and your level of stress—all of these factors influence your brain from one moment to the next.

In the end, there is no quick fix when it comes to good health or longevity. There is no magic pill and no fountain of youth. But the solution doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated either. Once you’ve memorized the basics, eating right and exercising becomes routine, and doesn’t require much thought.

Speaking of thought, it is wise to keep the mind as active as the body. Remember, learning something new is one way to keep the brain young, so remaining a lifelong student is a good idea. Research has shown that engaging in cognitively stimulating activities both early and late in life is associated with slower late-life cognitive decline. Conversely, if you don’t sufficiently challenge your brain with new, surprising information, it eventually begins to deteriorate.

What is the state of your health? Find a traditional naturopath to assist in bringing your body to a state of wholeness and wellness.

For comments and questions e-mail: [email protected] Susan (a nationally certified tui-na practitioner and instructor, and certified by ANCB as a Certified Traditional Naturopath) lives in Belize, Central America.


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