How long do you want to live, and why? Telomeres are now in your story.
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
How long do you want to live, and why?
What are you looking forward to, and who do you want to do all that cool stuff with?
These are some of the questions I enjoyed toying with at Professor Elissa Epel's wonderful presentation at Happiness and Its Causes conference this week.
I've lived all these years oblivious to telomeres. Thats understandable, as they were only discovered a few years ago by Elissa's boss, who got a Nobel Prize for it. Now thanks to the work of these ladies, my telomeres and I are buddies. I know they are there in every cell, at the tips of all my DNA, and they love me and care about me. They protect my DNA like a bike helmet protects a rider, and they hang on in there doing their best to stop me unraveling.
The Elisa Method
If life starts grind you down, your telomeres get worn down. Then your DNA starts making mistakes when cells divide, and the woes of old age kick in. The good news is, we can make our telomeres long again. We can slow down that clock. Here are Elissa's instructions, for counteracting the three main causes of ageing:
1. Get better Habits
- Find out how to get and cook and eat natural food. Not many people do this. You know what it is, lots of colourful vegetables, not too many colourful donuts.
- Find ways to get your body moving big and fast and happy, with exersize that you enjoy. Not many people do this either.
- Find ways to get to bed on time. Sleep will re-knit the bits of you that have unraveled.
2. Fear Less
Toxic stress, trauma, and being constantly on the lookout for threats are three things that will grind you down. When something big happens, practice saying to yourself 'This is good stress'. Many fears can legitimately be re-named 'excitement'
3. Create and Cherish Love and Connection
- Presence. Find ways to bring your monkey-mind back to the present moment, all day long. Love the world you are in.
- Positive Relationships. Do Cecilia's Permaculture communications course, and turn annoying people into beloved people : ) Plan actual fun things with the people in your life, off line.
- Purpose. If you are lucky enough to have a purpose in life, give it your all. If you don't have one, just make one up, and start investing in it. The longer you invest, the more interesting and fun it gets. You can't neglect 'Purpose' and get away with it.
Well, I got lucky enough to spend the pre-conference day hanging out with Professor Elissa and the other amazing Wellness Professor, Melbourne's Marc Cohen. While everyone else had air conditioned food and aluminium windows, we escaped, and got dumplings in the beautiful Chinese Garden. We got a costal walk, a glimpse of Bondi in its winter glory, and afternoon tea at the historical Vaucluse house. Two days later, back she went to San Fransisco.
Calculate that. She spent two days in a plane for a mere two days in Australia. This is a woman with purpose. And a woman with purpose, with an enquiring mind and generous spirit just gets naturally loveable.
I'd like to live to 160, Maybe 180, to see what happens. So I'd better keep up the sunscreen, stop drinking water with chlorine in it, and get strict about organics again. My hair will be long and white, and I'd better keep up the yoga. I'd like to hang out and work with observant and in-action people.
Maybe I should start working with schools for gifted children, as I'll need some young friends for when my other mates kick the bucket. We'd busy ourselves with shaping culture. Culture is endlessly interesting, and the only achievement that endures.
For now, my purpose is to have fun re-arranging, decluttering and resetting homes, for interesting people, and with interesting people. Then they can invite me to the best dinner parties. Later, if I stay friends with reality, stay in action, keep improving, that work will evolve into something else even more complex and useful, in an upstream kind of way. Exactly what it will be is thankfully a mystery at the moment. But I'll be solving the problem beneath the problem, and the problem beneath that. I'll be all little and powerful, like Yoda. With lovely long telomeres.