How to Increase Longevity Sustainably? This is the Forgotten Ingredient

How to Increase Longevity Sustainably? This is the Forgotten Ingredient

How to increase longevity sustainably? It is now the fall of 2021 and the worst physical effects of the pandemic are hopefully over.

A few months ago, many young people were found to have mental problems. Gradually it becomes clear that not only the young have suffered spiritually.

It’s a pity that the world is currently mostly ruled by fear. If there is one aspect that is great for your health and healthy longevity, it is to be fearless and happy.

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How to increase longevity sustainably?

In addition to the usual aspects, such as exercise, healthy eating, and a safe environment, it is important to work on your happiness. Happy people live longer.

The usual, useful tips to live longer

Hannie swimming

If you browse the internet in search of tips to live longer in a healthy way, these are recurrent tips:

  • Physical activity on a regular basis;
  • Eat healthily;
  • Reduce stress;
  • Socialize, nurture close relationships like family and friends;
  • Moderate the alcohol;
  • Quit smoking;
  • Sleep well.

Related: Lifespan and Nutrition, an often Neglected Partnership

Less mentioned, yet also important:

What is not emphasized enough, is that happy people generally have better health and live longer.

Related: How to Lose Weight without Hunger in a Practical Way

Can we choose to be happy?

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A quote that has been my guideline for the past few years is “Choose to be happy”.

Obviously, life is not completely makeable, we can simply have tough luck. While humanity has had a hand in a virus that is causing a pandemic, it is now happening to us and as individuals, we can’t solve the problem.

Yet I know from experience that choosing to be happy really is a possibility. It’s part of life to encounter hardship. The big question is: how do you react to hardship in moments of need. 

  • Will you sit in a corner and feel sorry for yourself?    
  • Do you ignore that something is the matter? 
  • Or will you grab yourself by the shoulders and shake yourself up?

How to increase longevity?

Hannie with parents

I was a caregiver of my parents for 2 decades. While being an entrepreneur, and aging myself, this took a toll on me. At times, I was so tired I couldn’t imagine feeling joyful and happy anymore. To the point of only wanting to sit in a corner and cry.

Yet I chose to shake myself up. It wasn’t easy, I must admit. The main obstacles were internal. This little voice in my head said: “You can’t do it”, “You’re too old” or “You’re a woman”.

Those were excuses, although I didn’t recognize them as such. I thought it was the plain truth and nothing was to be done about it. Shaking myself up was not only my own doing. I had great help from friends, making me realize once more we need a social network to support us.

Related: ​Why is Contribution and Reciprocity in Society Important and Sustainable?

Aging is fine, but only healthily

Caring for my parents also made me aware that health is a huge perk. I want to grow old (my goal is 110 years), but only if I can achieve that in good health. To increase longevity without that prospect sounds less appealing, don’t you think?

Choose to be happy

Happiness is not trying or finding, it's deciding

Several of the conditions for our happiness influence the conditions for healthy longevity. It’s a two-way street. Because several of the conditions for longevity as described above also serve our happiness. 

Happiness is an important ingredient in a healthy life. Many studies indicate that happiness plays a major role in our health, whether it’s living a healthy lifestyle or reducing the amount of chronic pain – happiness is the solution to many health woes.

Encourages healthy living

According to studies, happier people are almost twice as likely to eat more fresh vegetables than people who state that they are not happy. Eating more fresh produce will automatically improve our health compared to eating a diet high in processed foods.

If you have read more articles on this website, you know that Tom and I are huge advocates for organic produce. The number of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture certainly don’t add to healthy longevity.

Provides energy

When we tend to eat better, we end up with more energy. It’s hard to imagine but being negative or sad can literally drain the energy out of our body while being happy can give us more energy.

We can also increase our energy by eating certain foods. Sometimes we have a lack of a specific nutrient which drains our energy as well.

Related: The 6 Essential Nutrients to Have a Balanced Diet

Boosts immune system

Eating better, moving more, and feeling happy will also increase your ability to fight off illness and disease because it improves your immunity. A study showed that people who report happiness tend to fight off illness faster than people who report sadness. Negative feelings literally gave people the cold virus where happy people were three times less likely to get it.

To my ongoing amazement governments still concentrate only on vaccines and medication instead of inspiring people to live a healthy lifestyle. Health from within is so much more sustainable than health from the outside.

Happy kids with their toys

Lessens stress

If you’re happy, you’ll have less to keep you up at night, less to worry about, and therefore you’ll end up with less stress and sleep better. However, it even goes beyond that because happy people tend to report less stress even when they are facing stressful experiences. Due to the strength that happiness gives you, you’ll be more resilient to stress.

Protects cardiovascular health

Because you’re eating better and moving more due to your happiness, you are also protecting your cardiovascular health. You’re less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other issues related to heart health and the cardiovascular system.

Diminishes pain

People who have chronic pain have a right to be mad about it or feel sad about it. However, the fact is people who report being happy tend to deal with their chronic pain (and other illnesses) better than those who were not happy to start with.

When you are happy, you’re more likely to eat right, drink enough water, and move. It’s mostly because you have more energy to do active things. If you are having difficulty maintaining your happiness, learn how easy it is to change your mindset. Happiness has nothing to do with your circumstances but everything to do with how you choose to respond to them.

Happiness increases longevity

Because you’re eating right, exercising more, and you’re feeling great about life, you will likely live longer. According to one long-term study that tracked the lives of 32,000 people to find out who lived longer, the people who report happiness, or the people who report being less happy. It’s not surprising that happy people tend to live 14 percent longer.

Moreover, it is much nicer to feel good and be content than to complain all day, blaming others and feeling miserable. So the quality of life improves as well when you are happy.

How to choose to be happy?

Surround yourself with friends
  • Choose the people you surround yourself with carefully. It sounds calculating when you let go of friends who are no longer beneficial, but when you are happy, you have a greater impact on the world as a whole;
  • Choose to be the best version of yourself. Compare what you did today with yesterday’s actions, not with those of somebody else;
  • Be positive and optimistic;
  • Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Be grateful for even the smallest thing;
  • Choose to be honest and authentic;
  • Laugh a lot. You don’t have to burst out laughing out loud all the time, it can also be as simple as smiling at people you encounter on the street;
  • At times it is good to let go.  

It’s marvelous to know what the benefits are of being happy. It all depends on the effort you take. How is that for you, are you generally a happy person? Tell us in the comment box below.

13 thoughts on “How to Increase Longevity Sustainably? This is the Forgotten Ingredient”

  1. Lovely sentiments Hannie. I’m mostly in a happy mood but get a little sad when any of our children are struggling with life. Working on dealing with this!

    • Yes, they stay your child(ren) no matter how old they are. So naturally you worry then. Good of you to work on it however. <3

      It's always a fragile balance, don't you think?
      We worry, yet we also know they are grown-ups and are entitled to their own mistakes.
      We want to help, yet we also know that helping too much is not serving them either.

      Oh well, they have to learn, but so do we. 🙂

  2. Hi Hannie, I agree with you – happiness is an act not a feeling. It is like love. Love is something we do, not something we feel. You reminded me how the country of Bhutan adopted Gross National Happiness as its primary development goal instead of Gross Domestic Product. It is also very noteworthy that the Scandinavian countries rank highest on the happiness index. Mind you I wonder if that is a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest – “La finlande, dix points, Finland, ten points” 🙂 Maybe it is something about all those fjords.

    Sorry, these are disconnected random thoughts, but I have to say reading this on a Wednesday morning really gave me a boost! That’s a bit like the happy bus conductor effect. Probably one of the best ways a country could improve its happiness rating would be only to hire the happiest people as bus and train conductors, so the whole nation would be infected with happiness at the beginning of their workday!
    Happy days indeed!
    Best regards

    • I don’t think your thoughts are disconnected, Andy, in fact I love your deliberations. 🙂 Especially the happy bus conductor. I think I heard that story in one of my guided meditations. Wonderful story!

      I forgot all about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index, but it is indeed great. What is interesting: Bhutan is a relatively poor country, measured in actual money, where the Nordics are not. Yet, those countries harbor satisfied people. You mention the fjords. Another thing that stands out are the high taxes in the Scandinavian countries.

      Oh well, there are always more factors that make an index. So instead of wondering why somebody else is happy, we do better by making sure we are happy, deon’t you think. 🙂

  3. Hi Hannie I really enjoyed reading your article. Its very well written and the topic of being happy is really something that i want. I agree its a choice and we must work on it. Thank you very much for writing this, your article has given me something to think deeper about.

  4. Hi Hannie,

    I know we’ve spoken about this before, but I too had to provide full-time care for both my parents.

    However, this was nowhere near as long and stressful as it was for you, as it was only for the finally few months of each of their lives.

    With that said, the toll it took on me at the time, both physically and mentally, well it’s hard to describe.

    I know for a fact that this experience definitely aged me.

    In fact, I seemed to age by nearly 5-10 years overnight.

    I’ve now come to realise that this was the stress of the situation and the stress of grief.

    So, I’m really glad that you’ve touched on this in your article.

    Furthermore, I never really realised (until a few years ago) that we can “choose to be happy” in our lives.

    Once again, you’ve gone into great detail here about that.

    There have been times in my life when I’ve moped around, felt sad and angry, and I’ve chosen to blame everyone and everything else.

    However, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m actaully in charge of how I feel, and therefore I have spent the last few years being as happy as possible (don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a happy and jovial person, but I went through a few years when I wasn’t quite the same).

    To be honest, I feel revitalised and more energetic now that I act this way, and I completely agree that this feeling is one of the best ways to increase longevity.

    I’m not quite sure I want to live to be 110 like you, Oh No, could you imagine?

    I can’t possibly continue causing havoc on this earth for that long, LOL.

    Nevertheless, I do want to be around for a long time yet, and I will certainly always remain the joker and the comedian (irrespective of how much trouble it gets me into sometimes, Hahaha).

    I actually found this lovely to read Hannie, it gave me a real lift, and there is definitely a lot of truth in what you say.

    Till next time.


    • Oh, I certainly can imagine you causing havoc on this earth for a long time to come, Partha, and looking forward to it. 😉 You always make me laugh, both with your comments on my articles as in the articles on your own website. That’s the best kind of legacy someone can leave, in my view.

      The reason I mention how old I want to be is prospect of what that means for my life. I have a friend who is convinced he only has a few more years to live (he is younger than me, mind you). Overweight, eats medication as if they are sweets, has a heart condition and likes his wine. In his thoughts it doesn’t matter anyway. “I live now and I don’t want to deny myself anything”. It’s a view. Not one I want to share, but everyone makes his and her own choices.

      You know, my mother was always worried that caring for my parents only drained me. I told her numerous times it also gave me back a lot, but she couldn’t believe that. Yet it was true. By doing good we feel good, without being presumptuous. Probably evolution’s way to make sure we can keep up with the hassle, LOL.

      Anyway, I am glad you feel happy too and always love your stories. Thanks!

  5. Happiness is a choice, not a destination, and we are responsible for our own happiness. It was a lesson I also had to learn. Although life happens and sometimes gets in the way it is up to us to work on our happiness. I believe that happier people are healthier and live longer. Laughter is good for you.

    It’s a wonderful goal to live to 110 years, so that means that I will be reading your blog posts for a long time to come, that’s good to know 🙂

    I actually love nuts and eat them nearly every day (and dark chocolate). At a school where I used to work many years ago my nickname used to be “monkey” because I brought nuts as a snack to work every single day 😉 I also use a lot of turmeric in my meals, because I love the taste of it and it is healthy. I do not smoke, but I like to drink red wine and from time to time a little Prosecco, but that last one happens rarely.

    Your point regarding friends reminded me of two friends I am no longer dealing with, which I felt bad about and thought about a lot at first. One of them created a trust issue between us regarding a painful memory of my past and the other one literally messed up my back and I have had to live with the consequences of it for the past 7 weeks, and still ongoing. I understand that accidents happen and that we all make mistakes, but both really hurt me and although I tried to fix things with my first friend who broke my trust she didn’t seem to want to come to a solution, so I just stopped trying. We have to choose our friends, though, for our own and their benefit and sometimes when people leave from your life, they make room for other people, I think, and hopefully better ones.

    • I am sure, Christine, that now you have room for other friends. Ones that probably will be better for you. It’s always sad when friendships die and we can never think too lightly about ending a friendship. Yet, at times it is indeed better for our health and general well-being to do. Even with the ruminating afterwards. (Is that a female thing, I wonder? Tom never does!)

      I am really sorry your back hurts. It’s awful when we have physical discomfort as it has such a big impact on our mental health as well. So I hope you will recover soon!

      Aw, don’t tempt me with the Prosecco! I love that as well. In that regard Tom is the stricter one of the two of us, he never ever drinks alcohol and hasn’t done so for the past 12 or so years. Where I occasionally will have a glass of wine. You can’t seduce me with red wine, only white. 🙂

  6. Hi Hannie,

    I love this article, it is such an inspirational story of how you rose out of being in a bit of a rut. Then blossomed into the person you are today. You are right, happy is a choice, it is a decision. We can either decide to be happy or decide to be unhappy.

    For me, I decided to be a leader because I knew it would make me happier. I knew it would be very tough, but I knew I had what it took to be a leader. I didn’t use the mistakes I made, or the feelings of being tired as excuses to give up. Just like you didn’t when you were caring for your parents. You shook yourself up, even though it was difficult. It is the difficulty and overcoming that difficulty that makes us who we are.

    Thank you for sharing such an inspirational article and keep them coming.

    Have a safe and merry Christmas,


    • Ahh, that’s so sweet of you to say, Tom, thank you so much! Yes, difficulty makes us stronger and forms us. When we don’t regard ourselves as victims, but as the ones shaping our own lives we are both lucky and happy. 🙂

      It’s the same now 2020 is coming to end. So many people are speaking of a lost year. Isn’t that a pity? Being proactive and enterprising lets us see other possibilities. Maybe not always better than what we had before, but the sense of taking things into our own hands is doing a lot of good to our resilience. And by that, to our well-being.

  7. This is a tricky one for me… I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a teen, the only way to make it ‘liveable’ is to be on medication. I’m finally at a place where I can truly enjoy a nature walk, afternoon play sessions with my dog, little things that increase my serotonin and dopamine levels.

    • I am sorry to hear that, Autumn. Yet, marvelous that you walk and play now. As you said, these things are so important to heal and will surely benefit your health and with that your longevity and happy living.

      Hopefully, someday you will have swapped the walking and playing entirely with your medication. That would be fantastic, don’t you think? Good luck and take care. Thanks for your comment.


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