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The Most Important Ingredient for a Long, Healthy Life

IMG_4376We’re obsessed in our society with the newest superfood. I personally love keeping up with the newest trends. But which one is the best? Is it coconut oil? Acai berry or Maca root that will save us and preserve our health until the ripe old age of 100? You know when super food ingredients start showing up in granola bars, smoothies and multivitamins that a serious trend is dominating our health consciousness. I wonder, are superfoods really that essential to long-lived health?

I might be playing devil’s advocate a bit here, but what if food isn’t the most important factor in living a long healthy life? Are we spending too much time fretting and over-analyzing the perfect ratio of calories and carbs in our diet only to miss out on life’s other treasures? Do we care more about getting in our essential vitamins and nutrients from a power smoothie than we do about sitting down at the table to eat a meal with all of our senses? Could we be depriving our health even if the nutrition is on-track?

Secrets to Old Age

Whenever I see someone over age 100 interviewed on television about their secrets to longevity I’m amazed they don’t talk about their perfectly healthy diets. They usually mention their indulgences first! But they usually mention relationships, spirituality and regular exercise. The other detail I notice is that these special souls have a twinkle in their eye. They seem to possess this carefree attitude and childlike wonder. They say they don’t do “anything special” to live a long life, they just enjoy it.

Joie de Vivre

When I notice myself getting caught up in the hustle, either trying to work more and more or eat healthier and healthier, I try to catch myself,  then stop and ask: “What is the point? Why are you doing all of this?”  Why have more money? More energy? More happiness?

The answer usually is “to be able to enjoy this life more.”

I think the secret that all of these elders aren’t talking about is that they have a natural ability to enjoy life. They can enjoy all of the simple pleasures without getting bored. They see the world through a child’s eyes, with appreciation and gratitude for what they have, no matter what that is. They enjoy being around others and sharing with others.

A Perfect Example

This past week I learned my great uncle passed away 2 days shy of his 93rd birthday. Although I didn’t know him well, many others did. His joie de vivre was unstoppable and he lived a very full life up until his very last days. My favorite memory of him was at a family reunion where he would dance up on tables and get everyone to sing the french song “Alouette.” He was the life of the party, and it made quite an impression on me, even at 12 years old. But see for yourself, he was interviewed by a local TV station who learned of his popularity from community residents. What is your impression? Did he seem happy to just be alive?

What’s Your Essential Ingredient for a Happy Life?

Whether or not you feel like a happy person or exuding this type of personality seems a bit out of reach, there may be a way you can tap into evoking this feeling more frequently. When you watch the video, does it wake up a part of you that yearns to feel more happy to be alive? Ask yourself, what are the things you need to be doing more often to feel this way? Maybe more time dedicated to vacation, following a hobby or interest or spending more time with family? I bet it’s not about eating more broccoli. If you could wake up your Joie de Vivre- what would it say? Leave a comment- I’d love to know!

3 Comments on The Most Important Ingredient for a Long, Healthy Life

  1. Jackie
    December 1, 2014 at 7:57 pm (3 years ago)

    Amy, such a wonderful and heart warming post! In am fortunate to have grandparents that live life to its fullest which reminds me to so the same. I’ve been working on slowing down, taking a breath and enjoying the moment vs running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Thanks for the great reminder.

    Reply
    • amyrhager@gmail.com
      December 2, 2014 at 9:17 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Jackie! When I saw this video of my uncle I thought “that’s it!” The joy is in just being. And if we’re distracted from this, it’s time to ask what’s going on and reconnect to what lights us up.

      Reply
  2. Lily
    December 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm (3 years ago)

    I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes people get so focused on being healthy (whatever that means), or advancing their career, or whatever it is, that they miss out on the simple pleasures of life.

    Reply

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