I hope this note finds you well.
Embedded deep in our psyche is the drive to “live long and prosper.” The idea of a long, happy, fulfilled life surrounded by family and friends is a dream shared by people of every station in life. Snake oil salesmen of all stripes have feasted at this trough of human desire with promises of virility, happiness and long life since the beginning of time. Throughout history, one charlatan after another has preyed upon mankind, contending that they have the “secret” to a life without illness or pain.
Well, I have a secret for you, and it’s simple: There is no secret.
There is no potion or elixir, no magic pill, no surgery that will cure all your ills. There is no silver bullet that will cut to the heart of every problem you have. There is no shiny stone you can stick under your pillow while you sleep to cause you to shed pounds painlessly. There is no mechanical contraption you set in the corner of your den and watch gather dust while you turn into a super model.
Don’t misunderstand, there are many things you can do to ‘live long and prosper’ but they aren’t secret or new. They are:
Begin by assuming that you are responsible for your own health, because you are.
Surround yourself with family and friends whom you love and who love you and don’t ever let them go.
Start exercising today and don’t ever stop. No single form of exercise is perfect for everyone: find something you enjoy and do it every day.
– Eat a good diet that is low in simple sugar, fat, salt and alcohol. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates and modest amounts of low-fat protein.
– Be generous and kind with yourself and get adequate rest and relaxation.
– Learn to reduce the level of stress in your life and find a way to effectively manage the remainder.
– Do not use tobacco, do not use tobacco, do not use tobacco.
– If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
– Strive to stay physically, intellectually, and emotionally active until the day you die.
Not matter how old or young you are, fill your days with something that you find gratifying and fulfilling.
Illness will come in life, it is the nature of life; deal with it early, then repeat the first ten items.
Pursue the spiritual side of your nature, however you understand it.
These are the elements that form the basis of a long, happy, productive life. It’s difficult to argue with any of the points above; they are simple, clear, straightforward and not especially complex. For once in history, the hope of a long life is no longer a pipe dream. The death rate from heart disease and stroke is dropping like a rock and we are making great strides with all the common cancers. With longer life, it becomes more important that we focus on health and wellness. Not only will you live longer, you will have a better quality of life, you will feel better and be more productive.
Have a good journey,
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.