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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Love a Parade!

So, I’m sitting here sippin’ on a bottle of water, trying not to pop open my second Diet Dew, reading an article in the February 20th edition of Parade Magazine, by Dr. Howard Friedman and Dr. Leslie Martin, both Ph.D.s. I’ve read Parade in the Fort Worth Star Telegram for as long as I can remember—at least 44 years.   

I adore reading newspapers. I don’t even mind the icky ink that gets on your hands. Sometimes I have the luxury of reading Sunday’s paper on Sunday morning, with a cup of coffee (I do drink coffee about twice a week—which is evidently not enough to help ward off Alzheimer’s—so why can’t Dews do that?), in my jammies. But sometimes I have to read it later in the week, while hubby watches his weird shows.

Anyway, this article is entitled The Myths of Living Longer. It is fascinating!
1500 subjects were followed by researchers for eight decades to try to determine why some people live longer lives than others. What did they discover? That many of the things we have been told for a long time are not necessarily true.

The 6 myths are:

Myth #1:  Marriage guarantees a longer life. The studies show it’s not married couples that live longer—it’s married men. Duh. For women, there doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage to being single or married. Double duh. And, listen to this:  “ . . . women who divorced and never remarried did just fine—in fact, they usually lived long lives.” Hmmm. Really? Imagine that.

Myth #2:  Taking it easy adds years to your life. “Relaxation and an early retirement do not ensure long-lasting health. . . The most successful men lived five years longer than the least successful. Ambition, perseverance, impulse control, and high motivation contributed to a resilient work life, and that led to more years overall.” Hubby hoped to be retired five years ago (he’s ten years older than moi). We’ll be re-thinking his plan. I’m sure he’s good for another ten. J/K. I plan to work until I’m 80, if possible. (Unless, of course, I win the Texas Lottery. Then you will find me in Maui.) What worries me the most is that “impulse control” thing. Do you think that would include an addiction to a diet drink?

image via TLC
This is Cobbler, ELC's kitty, "takin' it easy." Bless his heart.  He's not concerned with ambition.

Myth #3:  You can worry yourself to death. “Actually, the opposite is true.” The best predictor of longevity is conscientiousness—being well organized—even “somewhat obsessive.” According to the authors, adults “who were thrifty, persistent, detail-oriented, and responsible lived the longest.” I am a worrier. I have been since I was five years old. Unfortunately, TLC is somewhat of a worrier, too. Not as bad as me, thank goodness. But she is also, like her Dad, persistent, detail-oriented and responsible. Yes, I would say to the obsessive level. Thrifty? Maybe not so much. (Thank you, Etsy and Hobby Lobby.) But three out of four ain’t bad, right? The researchers speculate that conscientiousness may protect one’s health—wearing seatbelts and following doctors’ orders, etc. And good news:  you can become conscientious. Awesome.

image via TLC (of TLC's tootsies)
Trust us, we didn't worry one little bit while we were on our "Girls Only" vacay in St. Thomas!

Myth #4:  More degrees mean more years. The study found that when children entered first grade at age 5, instead of 6 (which was common when us Baby Boomers were little—I had turned 5 at the end of March and entered first grade in September), they often did not live as long. They suspect this is true because “relating to classmates is so important, an early start may have launched some kids down erratic paths.” Erratic. Uh-oh. That can’t be good. I have believed, passionately, since I was in junior high, that kids should not be promoted up a grade or two. I’ve said it a thousand times before and I’ll say it again:  I despised being the youngest in my class. (I still have to show my driver’s license at my high school reunions. My classmates seem to forget that I am the baby. Which doesn’t say much for my nightly anti-aging regimen, does it?) I guess Doogie Houser would have disagreed with all of this. In terms of higher education, the researchers found that the “. . . level of schooling by itself was not a very important predictor of longevity.” Fascinating.

Myth #5:  Friendly, outgoing people thrive. The authors say Americans view extroversion as “desirable—we worry if our children are shy.” But their research shows that “sociable children did not, for the most part, live any longer than their more introverted classmates.” Why do they think this is true? You’ll love this:  Because shy peeps tend to have stable jobs, long marriages and are generally responsible. Highly social peeps, on the other hand, may be successful in business, but that “charm” can put them in situations where they go along with drinking and smoking. “A ‘people person’ may often join in the dangers of the moment—and that affects longevity.” (Sheen, Lohan—are y’all paying attention?) You will NOT believe this:  “Cheerfulness was comparable to high blood pressure and high cholesterol as a risk factor for early death.” Whoa, baby. They found it was usually some other characteristics, besides optimism, that caused a person to be happier and healthier. I don’t even know how to respond to this, except to say I intend to work a lot harder at being quieter and less charming.

image of "Lava Flow" via TLC
Tropical drinks with umbrellas don't count as a "danger of the moment," right?!

Myth #6:  Jocks outlive nerds. If you’re athletic when you’re young, then become lazy, as you age, you lose any longevity benefits. The key to a long life is exercise in middle age. And it can be simple things—like walking, dancing, tennis or gardening. Fabulous! Now TLC and I don’t have to regret our lack of “jockiness” in our junior high and high school years. Whew. What a relief. I was recently glad to have the opportunity to sell my Zumba tapes after I had used them only once. I discovered I can’t skip any more, much less dance—fast. Promising to exercise—for which TLC and I both excel—apparently isn’t enough. I vow to do better. On Monday. (And if it’s a Sunday when you’re reading this, I don’t mean tomorrow—I mean the next Monday.)

This article just proves to me what I’m learning more and more each day I’m on Earth:  Who knows what the heck the answers are to our cRaZy lives? Just keep trying to do your best. Practice The Golden Rule. Eat right and light and healthy. Drink lots o’ agua—not aspartame-laced carbonated soft drinks. Walk briskly—more than once a month. Persevere. Have faith—in God, yourself and your loved ones.

image via TLC
And remember to always LOL. Hugs help, too.

Gotta scoot to the fridge. For some water! (You’ll never know, will you?)


Autumn said...

Hi you Leighton chicks! Love the pic of Cobbler. He looks like a centerfold for Tomcat Magazine. (And don't even waste your time wondering if there is such a magazine)
AND I loved the pic of TLC and ELC with your arms around each other. Aren't hugs the best?

The Leightons said...

OMGosh--Cobbler would LOVE to be a centerfold or, better yet, COVER CAT!

HUGS to you, Autumn!