All posts on December 8th, 2015

Live Longer : Do More New

The secret to living longer is not shrouded in secret scrolls, or embodied in dried fruit cocktails. It’s all in what you do.

The secret to living longer is in building more memories. More memories based on new experiences.

This takes us back to a time when we were children, when the time took longer to pass – a day would past quickly but a year seemed like an age…

Often when we are adults this seems like it works in reverse. Days can drag on and yet years flew by!

Why is this so?

As children, we do more new things. Each day is like a whole new set of experiences, in building skills in interpersonal relationships, being exposed to new ideas, concepts which are strange and generally experiencing more novel stimuli. These are the new or less than usual things that we touch, taste, hear, see, smell, emotionally feel, hurt from, laugh at, cry from, yell at and a host of other experiential responses. As a result, children are immersed in the world; their perception of time is warped while they assimilate all that new information – the day flies by in a blur. But a year holds so much new experience, which is reflected on from time-to-time, that years take sooooo long!

We experience something similar as adults when we go on holidays. The days sweet and jog on by.. the weeks are long.

So what actually goes wrong when we’re adults?

Our working days – our day-to-day often involves a lot of repetition. Doing the same thing, repeating the same experience is not novel or new; not building new memories or adding substantially to our life. What this means, is we often let life pass in a dream or we move into auto-pilot. The days feel like they drag on, as we watch the clock and subconsciously our minds, looking for new and novel experiences, are frustrated and frankly bored.
At the end of the year, we reflect on what new things have happened. Sometimes, it adds up to not a lot. A few days away over the winter holidays – and going to same beach for summer as you did last year, doesn’t make for a big set of lasting memory. Consequently, a big over-seas holiday, or significant life event, such as having a child, getting married, losing a loved one, take on greater meaning as they are often the only thing of significance that separate one year from the next.

There are simple remedies for this which all centre on one key ingredient = CHALLENGE.

Building new experiences will mean consciously breaking repetition, challenging oneself and exploring the new.
Some suggestions for how you can actually live longer:

  • do a degree later in life – 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond;
  • learn a language and mix with new people who speak that language;
  • immerse yourself in a hobby which involves either a technical expertise, or a level of social engagement – better yet both;
  • take up a new sport or physical pass-time;
  • create things different from what you have done before;
  • change your job or even occupation type;
  • move house;
  • holiday somewhere new
Julian at his writing place - December 2015

Julian at his writing place – December 2015