I’m doing a follow-up to try to summarize the seven lessons from the book The Longevity Plan that I discussed recently. They are described in detail in the first seven chapters of the book. Each one is illustrated with stories about some of the centenarians the author, Dr. Day, interacted with. They are hard to summarize but I’ll give it a shot. I highly recommend reading the book to get the full wisdom on each of these lessons.
- Eat Good Food– I mentioned in the previous post that the residents of longevity village eat an extremely healthy diet, mostly plant based supplemented with health locally-caught fish. About everything they eat is highly nutritious, with nothing equivalent to the junk food present in our western diet. They eat in abundance until full, and do not believe in dietary restraint. This works because healthy whole food will fill you up before you overeat.
- Master Your Mindset– This chapter focused on the story of MaWen, who had undergone various hardships including losing her beloved husband early in life. But despite this, at 107 she was one of the most upbeat people I have ever heard of. The author described her as “feisty, funny, and ferociously dedicated to helping others understand that life, while not always easy or fair, is too wonderful of a thing to waste with sorrow”.
- Build Your Place in a Positive Community– MaSongmau, 108 year old and confined to a wheelchair because of an injury in a fall, summed this lesson up with “here, we all take care of each other”. We may not all be able to live in the equivalent of a wonderful village like Bapan, but we can build the equivalent mutual support network, such as family, friends, coworkers, or a church or other spiritual community.
- Be in motion– The healthy centenarians of Bapan do not do any formal exercise. They just move, a lot, as part of their life, doing walking and farm activities. From another elder, MaKang: “What I have done all my life is not exercise. It is simply my life”.
- Find Your Rhythm– The villagers all seem to have a predicable routine with occasional festivals thrown in such as Chinese New Year. They are not in a rush, but move as if flowing to the next thing in their day, eating, working, enjoying time with family, etc. I cannot think of a lifestyle contrasting more strongly than what it was like for me working at a startup, constantly dealing with the unexpected, always feeling like I was putting out fires.
- Make The Most of Your Environment. From elder MaKun: “The world is very big; I cannot change it. But I can make what is around me better”. Bapan is a very pristine environment. It would seem difficult to reproduce a setting like this in the developed world. But we can change the things under our control. One example the author gives is using more natural cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals. Getting out in nature often and away from the city is another example.
- Proceed With Purpose-.”My purpose today may be different from yesterday, but I am still important” – MaGan. The importance of having a purpose in life to healthy aging is spoken about a lot lately, for example I covered it here. But MaGan’s life involved reinventing her purpose multiple times.