Everyone knows a cancer survivor. No one knows an Alzheimer’s survivor. That is about to change. Just in time. Currently, there are 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s; currently, another American is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds; and currently, each American has a 50:50 chance, at age 84, of having Alzheimer’s. But there is new hope.
Nope, the hope does not come from our pharmaceutical world. The standard drugs, including Aricept and Namenda, still do not work, except nominally over the first 6 months. Pharmaceutical companies have spent 84 billion dollars on new medication trials in the past decade with no success. Studies show that only 2% of new drugs, despite their much higher cost, are better than the traditional, older drugs.
So, what is the breaking news? Studies, from around the world, are showing that 50% of Alzheimer’s is preventable and 75% of dementia symptoms are reversible. How is that possible? Through a combination of new specialized programs involving diet, fasting, sleep, breathing, exercise, and crucial supplements. More importantly, these are programs that each of us can incorporate without much inconvenience. They require 3-6 months to show positive results.
For diet, it does not matter if you follow the paleo diet or the vegan diet. What matters is that you eat healthy, wholesome food without toxins or chemicals. What matters is that you reduce sugar and carbohydrates. What matters is that you eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. What matters is that eat fish (like salmon) with omega-3 acids, not mercury. What matters is that you forgo addictive snacks, packed with salt, sugar, and toxins. What matters is that you reduce the foods that cause inflammation and/or infection.
For fasting, what matters is the number of hours between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day. Ideally, you should have 12-16 hours of fasting through each night That means eating dinner early and having no snack late at night, OR eating dinner late and not eating until early the next afternoon. Why is this so important for preventing Alzheimer’s? Because your body needs fasting to promote sufficient neuron / cell brain repair and rejuvenation. Collectively, those repairs decrease any chronic inflammation and life’s gradual damage to the brain.
The same truth applies to sleep. Most Americans are sleep deprived. We each need around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep has different stages, including a period of deep sleep and REM sleep. The deep sleep provides physiologic repair; and the REM impacts cognition and memory. The deep sleep comes early in the sleep cycle; and the REM arrives more toward the morning. To maximize physiologic repair and an improved cleansing process, we need to fall asleep early. We need to fall asleep before 10:30 pm; and we need to get at least five full 90-minute sleep cycles. Try to awaken at the end of the sleep cycle.
While we sleep our brain cells shrink, squeezing out debris from the day – much like the trash we pile outside our homes. During the night, that debris is washed away, degraded, and excreted from our bodies. That process – so dependent on the quality of sleep and the extent of fasting – allows our brain to repair itself, rejuvenate cells and decrease any inflammation. We were taught that amyloid plagues were the cause of Alzheimer’s. In truth, chronic inflammation is the cause of Alzheimer’s. We need to reduce inflammation on a daily (and nightly) basis.
Advanced breathing is also effective. Most of us take 15-20 breaths per minute. We need to pause for 20 minutes, at least once daily, for a period of advanced breathing. During advanced breathing, the person is slowing their breaths to 4-7 per minute. Breathe in for a count of 7, hold your breath for a count of 28, and breathe out for a count of 14. The exact numbers can be variable, but the benefit is clear. Advanced breathing increases cerebral blood flow and reduces the inflammatory stress during the day, giving the night time clean-up a head start.
Exercise is equally crucial. Each person needs to exercise 45-60 minutes a day. If the exercise if walking, that equates to 10,000 – 15,000 steps per day. High intensity exercise or isometric exercise (pushing / pulling against something stationary) is equally important. Both types of exercise “turn on” the genes that help regulate physiologic repair and rejuvenation. Recent studies have demonstrated that there are “healthy” genes and “unhealthy” genes, and that exercise activates those “healthy” genes that are crucial for repair and rejuvenation.
Supplements are also crucial (and the recommended doses are labeled on each bottle). As we grow older, our brain loses some of its ability to handle sugar, toxins, and other contaminants; as we grow older, our brain loses some of its ability to absorb the essential nutrients; and as we grow older, we become progressively prone to inflammation. Supplements, including the below list, can help the brain retain its key functions, including membrane permeability. Supplements can help the brain control inflammation with a higher level of function.
We should take supplements under the direction from our physician. Unfortunately, most physicians do not know nutrition. We need to find a preventive medicine physician, or functional medicine physician, or holistic physician – and work with that physician and a nutritionist to rule out any medical causes (low thyroid, Lyme’s disease, metal toxicity) and initiate a full spectrum program. I suggest taking this formula – the above features and the below supplements – to your physician / nutritionist, allowing that professional to devise for you an individualized approach. However, as a starting point, here are supplements to consider.
Vitamin B (combination)
Co-Enzyme Q 10
ECGC (green tea extract)
If you have doubts with this approach, consider the following fact. We have “Blue Zones” around the world where there are high number of centenarians – people who live beyond the age of 100. They grow old, remaining physically healthy and cognitively sharp with no Alzheimer’s. They have different diets, but the people from those “Blue Zones” all utilize the above features in this blog re: diet, fasting, sleep, breathing, and exercise – plus they maintain higher levels of nutrients than the rest of us. The supplements will help increase those nutrients and improve our cognition / memory.
If you still have doubts that this approach, I invite you to check on the Alzheimer’s studies on the Internet. Take a look at the recent interviews from “Awakening From Alzheimer’s”, as this series discusses the physician treatment programs, from around the world, that are showing reversal of Alzheimer’s. (There is another program HERE starting on October 6th.) Some current, non-drug programs are slowing 75-90% improvement with cognitive decline. It appears as if we are close to a breaking point in this new treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Remember: The best time to fix a leaky roof is when the sun is shining …
So, it is never too early, or too late, to start your own program …
So, educate yourself and find the right physician / nutritionist
Then start reducing your own risk of cognitive decline …
As someone who has attended multiple conferences on retirement with scores of professional presentations, I find it ironic that the best piece of retirement advice came from my own barber. The man did not have a college degree, but he had something better. He had common sense and an ability to prioritize what was truly important.
When he transitioned from full time work to part-time employment, and then moved toward his own retirement, he decided to establish two new habits. No, he did not change his diet or his exercise. He still loved to eat hamburgers and he still played golf every Monday. Instead of making changes in those areas, he focused on something far more important for his health and happiness.
He decided to create two new routines. He would be set aside one day each week for 3-5 hour outing with his wife, and he would set aside one weekend every three months for short, inexpensive weekend trip. The outings would include drives to museums, historic sites, even malls – anything that would allow for more time together. The weekend trips would lead to nearby cities where they could explore new places and create new adventures.
My barber knew the truth. If his marriage was good, he was good. And he knew that every marriage needed shared time. For him, those two routines worked. He and his wife were the couple who walked hand in hand. They were the couple who still talked, laughed, and huddled over a lunch. They were the couple who still shared a kiss in pubic in mid-afternoon. He was happy; his wife was ecstatic; and together, they enjoyed retirement far more than wealthier couples.
As I am now retired myself, I have followed his recommendations. Each week my wife and I set aside one day for our own outings. We often head to a restaurant and a movie theater. Or perhaps a visit to one of our favorite spots along the coast. And we have started planning small frequent trips to get out of town on some weekends. The key is time together. You cannot have those golden moments – when life seems wonderful – without creating sufficient time together.
So, for those of you who are retired or who are approaching retirement, I encourage you to step back from your bucket list. Do not just focus on the big-ticket items. Like finding a retirement home. Like booking a list of foreign trips. Instead, focus on the small items. I have always loved the quote: “It is the small advantages that lead to the greatest triumphs.” And for retirement, the greatest triumph is a marriage that just gets better and better.
If you need convincing, just look at our divorce statistics. 50% of couples still get divorced; and that percentage does not drop with older age. Worse, studies show that more and more older individuals are living alone, isolated from the world. That is a reality that translates to more than just unhappiness; it translates to declining health and reduced longevity. Your relationship at home is your life line. That is the relationship that determines the quality of your life.
Give that relationship your highest priority, especially as you enter retirement. When you worked those long hours of employment, you lacked control of all your time. Well, now you have regained that control. Do not look past that feature of your retirement. Prioritize it. And remember my barber’s wisdom. If your marriage is good; you are good. Purchases. Possessions. Trips. None of that matters if you lack a high quality, personal, close relationship.
So, follow my barber’s advice …
Set some new routines for yourself and your spouse …
Make that relationship the rudder for your journey …
Marriage can get better and better …
Life, and retirement, can also get better and better …
For this blog, instead of focusing on the best possible healthy diet, I am going to focus on the worst possible, least healthy diet. Specifically, the below list of foods underscores specific items that are dangerous to your health and longevity. These toxic foods are associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and a host of chronic physical illnesses.
I still encourage you to focus on the positive components of your daily diet with more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. I encourage more fish, especially Pacific Salmon. I also encourage more exercise with daily walking (10,000 steps) and weekly strength training. I also encourage the components in the previous blog on the 12 ways to extend your life span.
However, these are the foods that will make you sick – not with the first bite, but overtime. They contain ingredients from contaminants to toxins to hidden high-does sugars that will result in inflammation, degrading your body’s ability to rejuvenate and repair, weakening your immune system, and creating the wrong environment for the development of chronic diseases.
When you were younger, your body was better able to assimilate these toxins. As you grow older, your body is less able to metabolize the toxic sugar, less able to degrade the contaminants, and less able to eliminate the toxins. Collectively, they disrupt your normal physiology, causing intracellular havoc, DNA errors, a decreased rate of repair, and an increased rate of aging.
So, avoid these foods (as much as possible) …
Most foods in fast food restaurants
Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs
French fries and potato chips
Sugary fruit juices
High calorie coffee drinks
Bacon and sausage
Pastries and cookies
Cakes and frosting
Low fat yogurt
Low carb junk foods
If you can avoid these foods, you will stay healthier …
You will live longer …
Especially if you replace them with our other healthy habits …
I retired from my full-time position in April 2011, switching to 3-day-a-week consulting; and I retired from my part-time position to full retirement in April 2017. With the first transition to part-time, it was smooth with no surprises; however, with the transition to full retirement, there were three important and unexpected lessons / surprises.
First and foremost, after 6 months of full retirement, I have learned the importance of vacations. I always thought vacations were important while working. They are equally important – if not more important – during retirement. We need to look forward to something, even if that is periodic breaks and even if those breaks are just a respite from our own retirement routine.
For vacations, I favor the advice from my barber of over three decades. He might not have been the most educated man, but he was one of the wisest. He and his wife always had a short, inexpensive vacation planned every three months – something that would keep them focused on their future (and each other). He and his wife always had an annual trip planned – again giving them an adventure to anticipate as a couple. They kept that pattern going through retirement with sustained happiness.
Second, we all need to find a passion and a purpose during retirement. It is not sufficient to just sit back and relax – not if we want to maintain a high mood and good physical health. Your emotional and physical health depends as much on your attitude as on any aptitude (or any wealth or possession). Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed each morning. Something positive on the calendar helps move the body and spirt forward.
For some people, the passion might be golf or tennis or hiking. For others, it might be working in the garden or the woodwork shop. For some people with reduced physical mobility, it might be reading books. The specific activity does not matter. But the joy associated with that activity is crucial. With that activity, there needs to be a purpose. Helping your golf course (in some role). Maintaining your health. Improving your garden. Building a cabinet. Reading the classics. Goals help everyone at every stage in life.
Third, we need friends more than ever. Too many individuals, in retirement, live by themselves. Solo living used to be under 10% of the population. It is currently around 27% of the population, even higher in the elderly. Companionship is one of the hallmarks of good emotional health. Isolation is a risk factor for disease and death, equivalent to smoking cigarettes.
We need to retrieve our all friends – those people who have entered our lives, who have made our lives better, and who have disappeared from our lives. Find those individuals. Reconnect with those people. Be surprised at how easily the friendship begins anew. At the same time, we need to create new friends. Perhaps through our new passions in our retirement. Join clubs. Participate in groups. You will be amazed how good the connection makes you feel – emotionally and physically.
So, here are my suggestions for retirement …
These suggestions arise from my unexpected lessons / surprises …
Take regular short vacations
Take an annual long vacation (bucket list?)
Develop a new passion or a group of passions
Combine those passions with a new purpose (with goals)
Retrieve your old friends from your past
Create new friends for the future
Join clubs and groups
Participate with others
And watch how your mood and health improve
Good luck with retirement …
Just make certain retirement does not lead to inactivity …
When discussing health and longevity, most medical experts highlight the need for a healthy diet and the need for a regular exercise regimen. Too many of those experts fail to address the central importance of sleep. Yet, think about this fact. All of us can last for a couple of days without drinking, eating, or exercise. None of us can last for more than a few days without sleep. Lack of sleep can kill faster than starvation. Sleep is that crucial.
Consider this point. All species are primarily focused on survival. But every species sleeps every day. In short, sleep in nonnegotiable. Scientists are discovering that reduced sleep compromises every system, including our brain, our heart, and especially our immune system. Poor / reduced / fragmented sleep leads to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and early death. Plus, it increases our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – the cause for 1/3 of deaths in seniors.
There is another little-known fact. Poor / reduced / fragmented sleep is known to be a trigger – and one of the early symptoms – of depression, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders. Since depression is becoming the world’s most common worldwide diagnosis, sleep must become more central to everyone’s plan for better health (physical, mental, and emotional) and longer longevity.
Yet, here is our problem. Americans today are sleeping 2 hours less per night than Americans 100 years ago. One third of Americans sleep less than the recommended minimal 7 hours. Too many Americans are staying up past the best hour for going to sleep, 10:00 – 10:30 pm. Too many Americans have not established a consistent routine for the hour of falling asleep. Blame our technology-based workplace. Blame cell phones, social media, and our computers. We need to become smarter.
Benjamin Franklin has a famous quote: “There will be sleeping enough in the grave.” He is DEAD wrong. Sleep should not be considered an unproductive period. Instead, it is one of your body’s most productive periods. Sleep is the critical period when your body repairs DNA, cleans cellular debris, eliminates toxic chemicals, kills cancer cells, and rejuvenates your brain (and its neurochemicals). Do you want to complete one more work project late at night? Or do you want to live?
You also must ask yourself how much do you want to maintain a good mood. Sleep is overnight therapy. Sleep, through your dreams, releases the emotions of the day. The longer the sleep, the greater the soothing effect on those emotions. Your dreams separate emotions from prior events, allowing those emotions to be discarded just as cellular debris is discarded. If you have any mental health concerns, sleep is the most important component of any treatment plan or any self-healing.
Here is the solution. Follow the steps below and you will maximize your sleep and the benefits from sleep. You will reduce your risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. You will reduce your risk of early death or dementia or Alzheimer’s. You will reduce your risk of depression, anxiety, or one of the many mental illnesses. You will improve your mood. You will live longer and better.
Eat dinner early every night well before going to sleep
Do not snack before going to sleep
Avoid alcohol or drugs before going to sleep
Close all technology 30 minutes before sleep.
Do not over-utilize sleeping pills (except short-time)
Aim for a consistent bed time, varying only 30-60 minutes on most nights
Try to slip into bed by 10:30 pm every night
Create a target of 7-8 hours per night of sleep
Do not stay awake in the middle of the night
Do not snack in the middle of the night
Wake up to something better than a jarring alarm
Eat breakfast later, not right away
Expand your hours between dinner and breakfast
Nap only when sleep deprived
Try these steps for 6 months …
You will feel physically, mentally, and emotionally better …
You will also be primed for better health and greater longevity …
By 6 months, these steps will be ingrained habits …
Longevity studies offer a clear equation. The lower your blood pressure, the longer you live; and the higher your blood pressure, the shorter you live. Unfortunately, one in three Americans have high blood pressure – blood pressure 140/90 (or higher). At age 65, 75% of women have high blood pressure, and 65% of men have high blood pressure. Worse, as we grow older, the risk rises. We are more prone to develop high blood pressure with each decade of our lives.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer. It causes increased strokes, increased heart attacks, increased organ failures, and increased dementia. Physicians treat high blood pressure with antihypertensive medications. There are around 20+ different medications, but they all cause side effects, including headaches, vision problems, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia. Some studies warn that antihypertensive medications cause a higher risk, not a lower risk, of strokes and heart attacks.
What can we do? We can take control of our own blood pressure. We can move away from antihypertensive medications with the correct adjustments in our eating style, exercise program, and lifestyle. As a starting point, here are 10 ways to lower your blood pressure without any medications.
Buy an automatic blood pressure monitor and use it weekly
Increase salads in your diet – with leafy vegetables daily
Snack on fruits, between meals, several times each day
Add nuts and seeds to all salads and meals
Limit salt – and remove salt shaker from the table
Limit sugar with reduced soda drinks and fewer desserts
Eat more fish, less red meat, and low-fat dairy products
Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol
Power walk daily for 30-60 minutes
Meditate daily 15-30 minutes
If you can make these dietary changes and incorporate more exercise, you should lose 5% of your current body weight. Better yet, with these dietary and exercise changes, you should stay at the lower weight – not bouncing back higher. With the improved nutrients from these foods, your blood vessels should become wider and more flexible. Lastly, if you can also reduce your stress, your blood pressure should drop even further, back toward the target BP 120/70.
For your dietary changes, if you need more specificity, I would purchase the below list of items from your grocery store on a regular basis. These items all have nutrients that help to lower blood pressure. The more of these items you eat, the lower your blood pressure. Yes, dietary and exercise habits are difficult to develop. But it is your last 20% of effort that leads to 80% of your success.
Let me ask: When did you last touch the earth? Was it a couple of minutes ago? An hour ago? A couple of days ago? A couple of weeks ago? Here’s what counts as touching the earth. Walking barefoot on the dirt or sand, yes. Gardening with your hands, yes. Or swimming in the ocean, yes. But it must involve direct skin to earth contact. Or direct skin to a body of water contact.
Now, think again of your initial answer. Was your estimate wrong by several weeks? Walking/running on asphalt or concrete, or sitting/standing inside or outside your house – if you are wearing shoes – does not count. All those steps at work, from your office to a conference room: they also do not count. There is no direct contact with the earth. Why is that fact significant? Because there is the belief that “grounding” with direct skin to earth contact is crucial for your health.
Let me explain free radical damage. Free radicals are a natural by-product of your body’s physiology. Some experts believe that your rate of aging is a direct reflection of your production of free radicals. If those free radicals are not captured and bound together with an electron, they cause damage to your cells. They disrupt chemical processes, leading to inflammation, and causing, as their most obvious landmark, chronic pain. Free radicals exist only for a second, but their damage can last for days and weeks.
Your options for combating free radical damage are limited. Reduce your level of chemicals, toxins, and inflammation in your body by changing your diet to more of plant-based eating style with reduced dairy products and reduced meats. Or make certain you have an ample supply of electrons in your body to quickly absorb and neutralize those free radicals before they can cause damage. For many people, the easiest route, especially during the summer, is the latter – having more elections in your body.
Where can you obtain an ample supply of electrons? From the earth. It’s easy to think of your body as having a continuous flow of chemical interactions, but your body also has a continuous flow of electrical interactions. That is why the earth is crucial for your health. The earth’s surface is negatively charged. The earth can be viewed as a six sextillion (six followed by twenty-one zeroes) metric ton battery. The earth’s negative charge comes from solar radiation, the earth’s molten core, and lightning strikes (five thousand per minute across the entire planet).
Whenever your skin touches the earth, there is an instantaneous flow of electrons into your body. The soles of your feet contain a dense network of nerve endings (1,300 nerve endings per square inch). In addition, since water helps conduction, your feet have more sweat glands than any part of your body except your head and hands. So, your feet are designed for more than just movement; they are designed for the absorption of electrons. They are designed to help keep you alive and healthy – free of disease.
At this point you may have already guessed our challenge. For most of our evolution, we have walked barefoot on the planet, absorbing electrons. In the 1960s there was the advent of sneakers, and 90 percent of the sneakers were made with rubber soles. Rubber does not conduct electrons. That means that humans have become further insulated from touching the earth. Some people don’t touch the earth for weeks and weeks, even months.
At this point, most Americans are electron deficient. For improved health, we need more direct contact with the earth. The minimal recommendation is at least thirty minutes of daily direct contract with the earth. So, whatever your form of exercise, try something that allows some skin to earth contact. Perhaps try it after your usual exercise. Going barefoot is probably the easiest option. Maybe just a walk on the grass in a nearby park. Or a swim in a body of water – not your pool.
What are the health benefits of grounding? With electrons counteracting free radicals, a person should achieve less inflammation, faster healing, a reduction of pain, and a slower rate of aging. Studies have shown that rats, when grounded, are healthier and live longer than rats that are not grounded. Studies document that grounding improves allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, intestinal disorders, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, eczema, chronic pain, and aging.
Other studies have proclaimed that grounding has a benefit in reducing stress and anxiety, plus reducing the degree of depression. The research on grounding is new (with much work yet to be done), but the general concept, a return to nature, has been around for decades. Again and again, it has been found to lead to better physical health and improved emotional health. Besides, when you think about it, being more down to earth has always been a good thing, yes? There is a lot of sense in those old sayings.
If I were to list my top ten stressors in retirement, it would include several issues that I would never have imagined. Right now, four of those top stressors would be Breaking News, Fake News, Robocalls, and Non-Requested Email Ads. Do they sound insignificant? They are not. They can ruin a nice daydream.
I am apolitical. I do not vote along any party lines. Typically, I vote for the best candidates across the board. To gain a balanced perspective, I have been watching CNN for years – until I ran across a Fake News segment that left me bewildered, disappointed, and saddened. What the heck is going on with our world?
Let me explain. About a month ago, after President Trump dropped the ‘Mother of All Bombs’, I caught an early morning TV segment on President Trump. Once again, he was sitting at a table of White House visitors; and once again, a reported shouted one question as the photographers were being escorted out of the room. Despite President Obama’s advice to never answer shouted questions, Trump still offered his answer to the reporter.
The question was very specific. The reporter asked, “How would you compare your use of the military versus Obama’s use of the military?” President Trump, as he often does, gave a disjointed and vague answer, saying, “You can’t compare my 8 weeks with Obama’s 8 years…totally different.” Cryptic, yes. But one thing was certain. That answer was his assessment of his use of the military’s weapons.
Well, that night, I turned on Anderson Cooper to catch up with the news. Anderson Cooper announced to the TV audience that President Trump had been asked today: “How was the world different during the 8 weeks of his presidency from the 8 years of Obama Presidency?” Then they played the clip where President Trump was answering a question on his use of the military, not the condition of the world, but they did not mention that they had purposely inserted their own incorrect question.
Anderson Cooper, who I have always liked, must have known that the President Trump’s answer did not fit their ‘new, revised’ question. Anderson Cooper must have known that they were lying; and he must have known that they were distorting the words of a president. Worse, the four panel members, who all cut President Trump to shreds, must also have known that President Trump’s answer was bogus – not at all connected to their ‘fake’ question.
In short, it was my first experience with unequivocal, indefensible Fake News. It nauseated me that Anderson Cooper could lie so easily and that CNN could distort the truth so easily. And it left me in a terrible bind. I decided to stop watching CNN. If they can be that dishonest in prime time, I did not want to see anything else. At the same time, I did not want to watch Fox News, as it was so biased. The major networks were not much better, as the closer I listened, I realized they had become more negative, less accurate, and more slanted than any time in my life.
So, what was my option? What is your own option? Maybe you are a bit like me. With retirement, I was hoping for security and stability – with a little peace and serenity. Instead, I find myself bombarded by one manufactured Washington DC crisis after another crisis. And the world – let’s be frank – has enough real crises already. So, do we really need more fake (or at least ‘overblown’) crises?
As an attempt to regain my own sanity, I tried turning off the TV. That did not work. My iPhone was constantly bombarded with CNN Reports and Yahoo Reports (almost identical) with many of them later proven to be untrue. For a short time, I tried turning off my cell, but my landline remained constantly ringing with Robocalls. The more I answered these calls (just to say ‘no’), the more they called again and again.
The same predicament was true for my unwanted and unrequested email ads on my computer. The more I unsubscribed, the more ads I received. Right now, today, I counted 64 unwanted, unrequested emails, all delivered to my regular email address. Did I want a Russian bride? Did I need a walk-in-tub? Did I want my credit score checked? No! But how about checking my sanity. I am losing patience with these wasted distractions.
On all sides, I am being deluged with material that I do not want. Do you feel the same? Collectively, these interruptions are like the wake-up alarm that keeps on ringing and ringing. At this point I do not want to wake up to Breaking News, Fake News, Robocalls, or those unwanted emails. I wanted some peace and quiet – and some security and stability.
So, here is my suggestion – for myself and for you. If we can’t turn off these faucets, then we can turn down the volume. Turn off the TV news. Delete the phone’s news headlines. Do not answer your phone unless you know who is calling. And do not unsubscribe to unwanted emails (they just validate your email and sell it to others). So just delete / delete / delete.
Now, does retirement really require withdrawal from the world? No. But all of us can focus more on our personal lives – our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community. Let’s leave the chaos where it belongs – back with the people who started it. Not with us. Disagree? If you have any better suggestions, I am happy to listen. Just not on the evening news. Catch me in my ‘resting’ spot.
Many people assert that the biggest challenge of retirement is financial. It is difficult to forgo active income and settle for a lower level of passive income. However, I think the biggest challenge of retirement is redesigning your life, your relationships, and – to some extent – yourself. If you can accomplish this task, then happiness and serenity await. If you fail, the result is a life of chaos and disappointment.
I have always liked the Indonesian monkey trap analogy. In Indonesia, they catch monkeys with a coconut. They cut a small hole at the top; they cut out the insides; and they stock the interior with goodies – nuts, fruit, and other treats. Then they stake the coconut to the ground and wait for the monkey to arrive and fall victim to their trap.
The monkey arrives, smells the goodies, and slips its fist through the hole to grab the treats. But once the goodies are held in a grasp, the fist is too large to fit back out through the hole. The monkey will pull and pull, sometimes for hours, trying to squeeze the hand back through the small opening without ever thinking of letting go of the treats. The villagers wait and return to capture the “trapped” monkey.
People, especially around the time of retirement, are much the same. They will not let go of their own goodies. Those treats might be their profession or the associated respect / prestige or the attached income. Unfortunately, to successfully transition into retirement, you must “let go” of those goodies to become free. You must say good-bye to your life-long professional position and its benefits.
If you can let go and become free, then you are ready to redesign yourself, your life, and your relationships. You start the process by clarifying your twin pillars of passion and purpose. Instead of rushing into a bucket list of activities or trips, give yourself time to clarify (or possibly unearth) new interests and passions. Think of President Bush. Not the sharpest tool, but he deserves credit for finding a new passion, his painting.
Once you have found that passion, then align it with a purpose. With President Bush, he aligned his newfound passion of painting with a desire to create portraits of world leaders, sharing them with the world – his purpose. Let’s say your passion is just golf. Then align your golf with perhaps helping your golf course, or joining some board, or volunteering for some tournament. In short, you take your passion and give back to the community.
When people retire from work, there is one common refrain. They may or may not miss the work, but they always miss the people. With retirement, make the extra effort to maintain those friendships. In fact, make an effort to re-establish any lost friendships while building new friendships. Passion and purpose make life worth living, but it is your friendships that make life so rich and meaningful.
There are three questions that I recommend you ask yourself. Have you lived? Have you loved? Have you made a difference? Those questions were important throughout your career, but they are just as crucial during your retirement. With passion and purpose, and with friends at your side, try to find avenues for giving to others. To stay alive and vibrant, we need more than a good diet and exercise program. We need friends – close friends – for the rest of our lives.
If you can manage this challenge (and this transition to retirement), then life will become far more enjoyable. You will discover renewed health, higher vitality, a sharpened mental clarity, reawakened pursuits, stronger connections to others, increased spirituality, and an enhanced opportunity to share, give, and leave a legacy. Now, don’t those rewards trump money / income?
Give retirement its best chance …
By redesigning yourself, your relationships, and your life …
For increased longevity, in 6th century B.C., people were advised to consume a mix of root powder, gold, honey, and butter. In 133 B.C. Cleopatra bathed in donkey’s milk. In the 3rd century, ancient Taoists recommended a diet of spices, vegetables, turtles, crane eggs, and other foods from long-living creatures. In the 4th century, Ge Hong suggested consuming brains from monkeys. In the 13th century, Roger Bacon encouraged a diet of powders made with bones of a stag’s head.
In 1489 philosopher Marsilio Ficini suggested drinking the blood of young men. In 1625 Sir Francis Bacon recommended opium and baths. In 1667 Jean-Baptiste Denis performed animal to human blood transfusions. In 1889, Charles-Edouard Brown- Sequard injected extracts of guinea pig testes. In 1920 Serge Voronoff tried transplanting testicular glands from chimpanzees into men. In 1930 Giocondo Protti reported success with blood transfusions from young donors.
As for today, Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, has donated more than $330 million to research how to expand the life-span. Alphabet CEO Larry Pages has launched Calico to target ways to expand human life. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, has invested millions and millions in the same cause, even creating the Methuselah Foundation for expanding life-extension research. These are just a few of the many individuals who are searching for a pathway to a longer life.
There could be a breakthrough in the next 25 years. Genome sequencing offers one avenue. Microbiome profiles – bacteria from the gut – offer another avenue. There are high-tech fasting diets, which you can purchase for 5 days of fasting, to improve rejuvenation. There are upcoming anti-aging super pills. There are brain drugs, now in research trials, to improve cognition and memory. But, what can you do in the meantime to help keep yourself healthy and alive? What can you do to prolong your life to hopefully be alive for one of these breakthroughs?
You already know my basic tenets. Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Reduce your consumption of dairy and meat products, especially red meats. Walk 10,000 steps a day. Add some strength conditioning. And, as explained in the prior blog. Improve and increase the quality of your sleep. But, after these components, here are my 12 easy ways for increasing your life span.
Find your purpose
Embrace your faith
Create and maintain closer personal relationships
Make peace with your family
Babysit your grandchildren
Own a pet
Drive the car less
Sit for fewer hours
Retire at a higher elevation
Now, those actions aren’t that difficult, are they?
Multiple research studies show those actions increase longevity.
It is within your control to increase your chances for a longer life.
Give it a try …
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