Longevity Hack: #4 of 5 Anti-Aging Secrets

If You Want Friends Don’t Be A Stranger

As a species wired for social connectedness, we inherently know how important it is to live a life with sustained intimate relationships. Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger is the director of the Laboratory of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he’s spearheading a study on adult happiness that has tracked hundreds of American men for over 75 years. In his TED talk outlining the findings, his main conclusion, beautiful in its simplicity, demonstrated just that: Form good relationships and you’ll be all right.

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Longevity Tip: Aging Well Is Like Being Tickled

“Aging successfully, according to Vaillant, is something like being tickled — it’s best achieved with another person. Whether your social connections are with a spouse, offspring, siblings, bridge partners, and/or fellow churchgoers, they’re crucial to good health while growing older.”

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Longevity Hack: What You Choose to Do Is Important to Your Longevity

“Stressful events didn’t predict future health, either. “Some people had a lot of stress, but aged very well,” says Vaillant. “But how you deal with that stress does matter quite a bit.”

In fact, rather than obsessing about your cholesterol or even the genetic hand you were dealt, the Harvard study found that you’d be better off becoming preoccupied with the following factors that turned out to be most predictive of whether you’d move successfully through middle age and into your 80s:

Avoiding cigarettes. Good adjustment or coping skills (“making lemonade out of lemons”). Keeping a healthy weight. Exercising regularly. Maintaining strong social relationships (including a stable marriage). Pursuing education”

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Stress Hack: Create a Circle of Friends

“There are many different ways to cope with stress. We know from a lot of different studies that having close personal relationships—people with whom you can talk, with whom you can share your feelings—can be helpful,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. “So spending time with family and friends in order to maintain those relationships is perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do as a stress reducer.”

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How Can You Sleep? Asks Vinnie’s Mom. LOL

25

Later that night. Much later that night. Vinnie’s mom checks the time on her iPhone. One-fifteen. She glances to her right and sees Vinnie’s dad sleeping as if he had no care in the world. Vinnie’s mom is thinking, ‘I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ll have ugly black circles under my eyes. I won’t have any energy. I’ve tried deep breathing. It didn’t work. I tried counting backward from one-hundred, it didn’t work. I tried visualizing being alone on a peaceful seashore, it didn’t work.’ 

Vinnie’s mom turns on her side and shakes Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie’s dad wakes says, “Huh? What’s wrong?”

“How can you sleep?” asks Vinnie’s mom angrily.

Vinnie’s dad’s brain doesn’t want to work, the best he can come with is, “I close my eyes and fall asleep.”

“I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. Are you taking sleeping pills? I want some.”

“No, Dear, I don’t take sleeping pills.”

“Did you eat turkey behind my back and didn’t offer me any,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad’s brain is slowly coming around, “I have a feeling something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?”

“Duh! Where have you been all evening? You’re not bothered by Vinnie’s speech?”

“Un Uh. Should I be? I thought it was very creative. What time is it?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“It’s time we talked about Vinnie’s speech. He is going to get in big trouble if he gives his speech,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad yawns. He stretches his arms over his head. He says, “Do you mind if I go to bathroom before we talk?”

“Don’t you dare to lock yourself in there and say you’re constipated,” responds Vinnie’s mom. 

Vinnie’s dad rubs his eyes, “I’ll hold it even though it’s uncomfortable. What do you want me to do?”

“Don’t you have any ideas? What do you do in court when you know your client is going to lose?”

“I usually have my client accept a plea deal. Do you think that might work with Mrs. Mavis? Don’t take it so seriously. It’s only a fourth grade election. Mrs. Mavis will probably shut him down after his first sentence and send him to the office. One of the other kids will win and our problems are solved. Let’s get some sleep, I think I see dark circles under your eyes.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She touches the skin under her eyes with her fingers. She says, “How bad does it look?” 

Vinnie’s dad squints. He only made it up about the dark circles. He says, “I think they’ll be cleared up the time we get up if get to sleep. It’s all going to work out. Vinnie’s sound asleep. He’s happy. Why burst his bubble?”

“Oh, maybe you’re right. I take everything so seriously, I wish I could be more like you, Dear. Thanks for talking with me,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Let’s go to sleep. I set the alarm for 6. You stay in bed when the alarm goes off, I’ll make coffee and start breakfast.”

“Thanks for reminding me why I married you. I love you. I think I’ll fall right to sleep. You are the best,” says Vinnie’ mom.

Vinnie’s dad puffs himself up like a strutting peacock.  He pulls the cover over Vinnie’s mom, then slips it over himself. Within seconds Vinnie’s mom and dad are sound asleep.

“Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie!” A constant chant echos off the walls to the beat of a large pan and spoon while a barking and howling beagle provide background music.

Vinnie’s dad is sitting up straight. He says, “My God, what’s happening?”

“Vinnie’s mom opens one eye, “You handle it, Dear. I don’t want to burst Vinnie’s bubble.”


Vinnie Made It Until 9:30 Before Being Put in Timeout

21

Vinnie’s mom stands on the sidewalk waiting for the school bus to stop at the end of the street. She’s holding Dexter’s leash. Dexter is sniffing on Sara’s parent’s lawn. Vinnie’s mom checks her iWatch, she thinks, it’s 3:30. She’s thinking, I didn’t get a call from the school. I didn’t get an email, at least not yet. I’ve got to go to daily mass more often. 

The yellow school bus stops at the corner of Mulberry and State Street. The flashing red lights start blinking. The stop sign swings out warning drivers in either direction to stop. The school bus door opens. Vinnie leaps out and turns a perfect one-hundred-eighty turn landing perfectly upright with his arms outstretched.

Vinnie yells, “Who you gonna vote for?”

The kids on the bus scream, “Vinnie.”

Vinnie yells, “Who you gonna vote for?”

The kids on the bus scream, “Vinnie.”

Vinnie yells, “Who you gonna vote for?”

The kids on the bus scream, “Vinnie. Vinnie. Vinnie.”

Vinnie makes an exaggerated bow, waves, and takes off as if he is a jet plane on a takeoff run. He screams at the top of his lungs, “Mom. Mom. Mom, you gotta hear this, it’s the best news ever.”

The three moms twenty feet in front of Vinnie’s mom glance back at Vinnie’s mom and start talking and pointing, pointing at Vinnie. 

Dexter’s howling, pulling on the leash. Vinnie’s mom wonders if it is a sin if she lets Dexter go and knock over the three women. She decides against it. Vinnie might try it.

Vinnie leaps over the Masterson’s rose bush. He swings his backpack at the Tolbert’s mailbox leaving a small dent in the side. He spins around and sticks his arm out. As he reaches his mom he dives head first toward Dexter. Vinnie screams, “Vinnie scores. It’s another win.” 

Vinnie stands up, grass stains streak his school pants. This doesn’t bother Vinnie’s mom because it’s an everyday occurrence. What bothers her is the gouge Vinnie took out of the Johnson’s perfect lawn when he dived toward Dexter. She looks right. She looks left. She looks at the Johnson’s window. The coast is clear. She says, “Quick Vinnie, give me a hug and let’s hurry home.”

Vinnie’s bending over hugging Dexter. He looks up, “Why, Mom. I want to give Dexter his snack.”

“What is it this time?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Larry and me made a bet. I bet I could make it past nine-thirty before being put in time out.”

“You know I don’t like you to bet. School starts at 8:30. Larry didn’t think you could make an hour before being put in time out?”

“Un huh. I usually get put in time out before school starts.”

“What?”

“Nothing to worry about, Mom. It’s only for five minutes until after the announcements. Every time Doctor Cashman says an announcement, I say, “Thank you, Doctor Cashman. For some reason, Mrs. Mavis doesn’t like me being polite to the principal.”

Vinnie’s mom glances up and sees the three moms greeting their well behaved children, turn and begin walking up the sidewalk toward Vinnie and her. She says, “You can give Dexter his treat on the porch. What is it?”

“It’s Larry’s hotdog. I bet my whole lunch against his hotdog he bought at hot lunch.”

“How long did you make it before you were put in time out?” ask Vinnie’s mom.

“I’m not sure. It was a little after 9:30 because that’s when we begin science class.”

“Oh, dear God.”


“Watch Me Mom, I’m Going to Close my Eyes & Eat”

20

Vinnie sits at the breakfast bar staring at a bowl of oatmeal with banana slices, a cup of strawberry yogurt, and a piece of toast covered with peanut butter. He takes a spoonful of the oatmeal and spreads the oatmeal over his peanut butter toast. He carefully scoops one banana slice at a time and places them on his toast. One slice for each eye, and three slices for the mouth. Vinnie scoops out half of the yogurt and covers the peanut butter carefully avoiding the banana slices. He drops the yogurt container on the floor.

“Oops, Mom. I dropped the yogurt container on the floor. It’s okay, Dexter’s is already cleaning it up. Good dog.”

Dexter’s beagle nose is inside the yogurt container, his tongue wiping any trace of yogurt. 

Vinnie is laughing.

“What’s so funny, Vinnie? No stalling, you are going to read your two paragraphs to me before you go to the bus stop. If you don’t, I will drive you to school and kiss you good bye in front of the school.”

“No, mom. That’s worse than dying. I promise I won’t stall. Look at Dexter, his nose is stuck inside the yogurt cup, he can’t get it off. Where’s your phone so I can take a photo. Joey will put it on instagram for me. How come I can’t have an instagram account and Joey can?”

“Take the yogurt cup off Dexter’s face. He looks terrible. How many times do I have to explain to you that you are too young to be on social media?”

“About twelve times, Mom. You only explained it seven times. LOL, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie’s plate. “That’s disgusting.”

“It’s my new breakfast invention, Mom. Can I send the recipe in to Quaker Oats? Maybe they’ll put me on the box when I’m elected President of the 4th grade. It’s delicious this way, Mom. You should try it. You can eat faster because you mix all the stuff together.”

Vinnie jumps off the breakfast bar stool and takes the yogurt cup off Dexter’s nose. Dexter sits on his haunches and holds his paw out. Dexter thinks Vinnie is going to ask him to shake and reward him. Dexter wants to skip the first step. Vinnie says, “Good one, Dexter.”

Vinnie turns and breaks off a piece of his toast, “Here, Dexter, you can have Mrs. Mavis’s eye.”

“Vincent!”

Vinnie cuts up the remaining toast into seven pieces. “Watch me, Mom. I’m going to close my eyes and put the piece of my toast into my mouth without hitting my nose. Can you do it?” 

Vinnie picks up a piece of his toast, he closes his eyes, and he swirls the toast through the air as if it is an airplane circling a major airport. “Perfect landing, Mom. Come on, try it.”

“No, Vincent. Hurry on. I’m going to get my phone, when I come back, I want your breakfast gone and I want to hear the first two paragraphs.”

“No problem, Mom,” says Vinnie picking up a second piece of the toast and repeating the circling airplane motion. “Perfect landing, Mom,” Vinnie hollers.

Vinnie takes his plate, he slides off the stool and kneels besides Dexter, “Hurry up, Dexter. You need to finish before Mom gets back.”

Dexter understands his role. He consumes the remaining five small squares in two swipes of his tongue. Vinnie climbs on the stool, puts the empty plate in front of him and opens his notebook. “I’m ready to read, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom walks into the kitchen and stands opposite Vinnie. “I’m ready.”

Vinnie begins reading. “Many years ago kids were much smarter than adults.” He pauses, “How’s that, Mom for the first sentence?”

“Go on,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Most of the adults were nice and let the kids run the country. There was one, very mean, and bad adult who didn’t like kids, her name was …”

“Vincent, stop. I told you not to say anything about Mrs. Mavis.”

“I didn’t, Mom.”

“What was this mean woman’s name?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie looks down at his notebook and reads, “Her name was Mrs. Cave Us.”

“Vincent.”

“I got to go, Mom. I’ll miss the bus. Bye.”

Vinnie’ mom walks around the corner, gives Vinnie a hug and kiss on the top of head, “We’re going to talk about this tonight.”

Vinnie turns and glances at his mom. She’s holding onto her purse and her hair is in a ponytail. He says, “You going somewhere, Mom?”

W”I thought I might go to mass this morning.”


Longevity Tip ~ Don’t Be Shy – Connect

The studies are in. An active social life is associated with faster rebound in the face of stress. It’s also linked to a longer life and a greater sense of wellbeing. So how do you reap the benefits of a good social life? First, focus on the people who mean the most to you. Quality trumps quantity. So reach out to your healthy supports — your closest family and friends — on the regular. Then, expand your social world. Faith groups, volunteer organizations and hobby groups are all ways to make new connections

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“Do I Have To Kiss You, Mom?” asks Vinnie

19

Vinnie’s dad is standing next to the breakfast bar. He’s sipping coffee from a cup in his right hand. He’s staring at his laptop screen. Vinnie’s mom says, “I’m making oatmeal, want me to put in extra for you? It’ll be good for your heart.”

Vinnie’s dad glances up from his laptop, takes a sip of coffee, “No thanks. I’ll stop by Starbucks and get something. I’ve got a big case today.”

Vinnie’s mom turns her attention away from the pot of oatmeal and looks at Vinnie’s dad, “No you don’t. You’re doing a pro bono case and you said the defendant was going to plead guilty and hope to get a light sentence.”

“When did I say that?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Last night. You promised you’d sit at the table with Vinnie and me this morning and listen to the first two paragraphs of his story. You are not going to weasel out of it,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad’s mind is desperately seeking an excuse to leave. He says, “I think I found a loop hole to get my client off.”

“Yes? Let me hear it,” says Vinnie’s mom stirring the oatmeal.

Vinnie’s dad says, “Okay, you got me. It’s not a big case. I know I said I would sit at the table with you and Vinnie and listen to his first two paragraphs. You know this is not going to go well. It’s better if you do it alone.”

“It is?” asks Vinnie’s mom turning the stove off and scooping oatmeal into a bowl.

“Yes, Dear. First, you’ll warn Vinnie you don’t want to hear anything about Mrs. Mavis. Vinnie will tell you he left her out of the story. Vinnie will read his two paragraphs. By the third sentence there will be a clear reference to Mrs. Mavis. You’ll get upset and look at me and ask me to say something. I’ll say something like, ‘It’s good so far, let me hear the rest.’ You’ll kick me in my shin. I still have a bruise on my shin from when you kicked me the other day.”

Vinnie’s mom cuts strawberries and puts them on top of her oatmeal. She picks up a jar of honey and drizzles honey on the oatmeal. She says, “This is so much better than what you’ll get at Starbucks.”

Vinnie’s dad thinking he’s home free says, “I wasn’t going to get their oatmeal because your oatmeal is so much better. I was going to get a piece of their poppyseed lemon cake.”

“Dear God, do you know how many calories are in that cake?”

Vinnie’s dad answers, “Is it calorie free?”

“Go before I lose it.”

Vinnie’s dad comes around the breakfast bar and kisses Vinnie’s mom. He picks up her spoon and takes a helping of her oatmeal. He says, “This is good.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “You and Vinnie, I don’t know what to do with the two of you.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Love us, promise?”

“Yes,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s door opens, Vinnie is running down the hall carrying Rupert under his left arm, his right arm holding his notebook, and his backpack slung over his shoulders. Vinnie says, “I don’t have time for breakfast, Mom. I promised Joey I’d meet him at his house and read my story first to him. Bye.” Vinnie runs past his mom and his dad.

Vinnie’s mom hollers, “Stop and come back here.”

“Do I have to kiss you first, Mom?” asks Vinnie.

“No, you have to read Dad and me the first two paragraphs of your story. I better not hear Mrs. Navis’s name anyplace. And, you are not going to have breakfast at Joey’s house.

“Why not, Mom. Joey’s mom cooks so much better than you. She’ll give me bacon, breakfast sausages, a strawberry filled donut, and she’ll repack my lunch.”

Vinnie’s mom’s jaw drops open. Her mouth stops working. Vinnie’s dad recognizes the signs of a brain freeze. He says, “Vinnie get up to the breakfast bar, Mom made you healthy oatmeal.”

“What are you having, Dad?” asks Vinnie.

“I’ve got to go. I’m going to get lemon poppyseed cake at Starbucks.”

Vinnie’s mom silently prays, “You really need to find me a good support group.”