Mental States in the Fight for a Longer Life
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
We all want to live as long as we possibly can. We want to experience the full wonders and joys of this world. We want to go on vacation to the most pristine and elegant places on this planet. We want to be able to experience new foods, cultures, and lifestyles. However, we will never be able to fully experience all the wonders in this world through 60,70, or even 80 years of a short life. Despite this downhearted message, there are still things that we can do to maximize our lifetimes.
Living a long life, according to the general population, means eating vegetables, fruits, cutting down on McDonalds, fast-food, and exercising every day of the year for at least 1 hour. Don't get me wrong, these are all fantastic and highly effective measures for longevity. I must saw that doing all of these things is extraordinary if one was able to do them. However, there is a huge part in longevity that most people forget: the mental mind.
Many people disregard the mental mind because they connect the way we think independent to the other organs that are in our body. However, the truth is that the brain is connected with the body in a way that you might have thought impossible. Different emotions that we experience have an immense toll on our overall health as well. In this article we will discuss two different psychological states and how they impact longevity.
Happiness, what does it really do? Well, the psychological state of happiness is very interesting. The University College London conducted a research in which they found that older people were 35% less likely to die, during the 5 years that it took to complete the study, if they reported feeling happy, excited, and tranquil on a certain day. "We had expected that we might see a link between how happy people felt over the day and their future mortality, but we were struck by how strong the effect was," said Andrew Steptoe, the author of the study and the professor of psychology at University College London. However, there is a little problem. A lot of studies conducted around “happiness” have asked the participants to recall a feeling of happiness in their past. These studies are not always accurate. To solve this problem, Steptoe asked more than 3,800 people to record different emotions during 4 different points of the day rather than just one.
Now that we know there is a clear correlation between the feeling of happiness and longevity, why is this the case? Laura Kubzansky, the Harvard School of Public Health associate professor of society, human development, and health, has conducted many researches and on one occasion, she found in her study that children who stayed focused and were more optimistic lived a healthier life and encountered fewer illnesses 30 years down the road. Furthermore, she concluded that optimism reduces the risk of having coronary heart disease by 50%. This provides substantial amounts of evidence. For one, it directly shows the toll unhappiness has on the heart. When we are unhappy, there is obviously a reason why we are not happy. For example, we could have been fired from a job, dealt with the death of a loved one, faced financial burdens, or been injured. When all of these events unfold, we also feel stressed as a byproduct of our unhappiness. Later on, this stress keeps increasing because we are unhappy all the time. So then, we develop heart conditions and illnesses based on the basic medical processes of stress and the rise of cholesterol. Likewise, most of the time we are happy when we are in a calm and relaxed state instead of a demanding and stressful one. When we feel relaxed, we don't produce as much adrenaline in our system. Therefore, causing our heart to beat at a regular pace once more.
In order to changing one's psychological illness, one must evaluate his/her situation. He or she must realize his/her symptom and when that symptom occurs. For example, if Billy is always angry at school and he wants to start living a more optimistic and healthy life, he needs to record the places at school where he starts to feel angry: is it at recess, lunch, 5th hour, or 6th our? Once Billy knows where his anger comes, he must evaluate why he feels angry in those particular locations. Lastly, from there, Billy can try to solve the mystery. For example, Billy could go for a walk, drink some water, close his eyes for a minute, ignore his surroundings, or just lay down in order to alleviate those psychological symptoms that he is trying so hard to escape.
In a world full of negativity, destruction, fights, wars, debates, dramas, and darkness, it can be hard to find a source of hope. Too often than not, we get sucked down a hole and find it hard to climb out. When we are at the bottom of the hole, we can't see the sun and miss the rope that would pull us out. While we wait for the sun to appear out of nowhere, we don't take initiatives to that speck of light. In stages of anger and depression, we are clouded with negativity from all directions. We wait for our negativity to end but we don't take measures to ensure that it is gone. It starts by as wanting to change or else nothing is going to change.