Here’s some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news is stress is everywhere. Burnout is on the rise. And the concept of a work-life balance has become more of a dream than a reality for most people. The good news is you have a great deal more control over those things than you might believe.
It’s kind of like aging. As Steve Austad, the author of Why We Age, has discovered … people mistakenly think longevity is all about one’s genes. In reality, Austad argues it’s really one-quarter genetic and three-quarters lifestyle. In other words, you have control over three-quarters of the things that determine how long you’re going to live.
In a similar sense, you have control over three-quarters of the things that will determine how the stress in your life will affect your overall work-life balance. Here are six things that research and people who live past the age of 100 tell us … that you can and should do to live a long, healthy, balanced life.
. Exercise Your Brain The more you use your brain, the healthier it becomes. So you need to keep on learning. That’s why I read something educational or listen to something motivational 10 minutes every day. That’s not a lot of time, but no matter how busy I am or you are we can all afford to spend 10 minutes a day exercising our brains. And those 10 minutes a day turns into 60 hours of extra education per year … which is not only huge but revolutionary. I know that practice revolutionized my health, my marriage, my business, my finances, my spirituality, my relationships, and finances all for the better.
2. Stay Physically Active
Find something that makes you feel euphoric and then do it and keep on doing it. But find something and do it now. That something may be your work. As Pablo Casals, the great composer and conductor who lived to be almost 100, said, “The man who works and is never bored is never old. Work and interest in worthwhile things are the best remedy for age.”
That something may be a recreational activity. It may be going for a walk, working in your garden, taking a bike ride, or finding some way to serve others. It doesn’t matter. As author Frank Crane puts it, “There are three rules for success. The first: Go on. The second: Go on. And the third: Go on.”
3. Manage Your Memories
Some people are haunted by the past, by what they did or didn’t do. They’re stuck in guilt and regret, and that will stress you out. Learn, instead, to manage your memories. As psychologist Laura King advises, “Being happy isn’t about forgetting the past. It’s about learning from it and discovering ways to have a better future.”
4. Keep The Faith
Time and again, the research indicates that people of faith tend to live longer and live happier. Faith gives people a courage to live by and a peace to live with.
Indeed, Jonathan Livingston Seagull noted, “When you come to the edge of all the light you have known and are about to step out into the darkness, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen. There will be something to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”
When Ethel Yarbrough passed the 100-year mark, she was asked about her secret for a long, relatively stress-free life. She answered, “Sing and pray. I pray all the time, thanking God for everything He’s done for me.”
5. Manage Your Stress
As creativity expert Natalie Goldberg puts it, “Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency.” And of course, it isn’t. So, one of the most important steps in managing your stress is to realize that not everything that happens in your life is worthy of your worry, panic, or hissy fits. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Then engage in some vigorous physical exercise. Spend 20 to 30 minutes on aerobic exercise every day. And if you can’t do that, do what you can. But start and keep at it until it becomes a regular part of your day. Because this is the secret: when you engage in some physical stress you remove the emotional stress in your life.
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything. Their attitude is consistently positive ... no matter what. Indeed, cheerful, optimistic people decrease their risk of early death and poor health by 50% compared to pessimistic people, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. That’s worth noting.
Ethel Wilson, 100, a resident of the Glen at Hiland Meadows assisted-living facility, agrees with the Mayo Clinic. She says, “I think the longer we’re happy, the longer we’ll live.” And then adds, “I couldn’t be happier. I go to bed every night the same way: I’ve had a good day.”
The research says you have control over three-quarters of your life expectancy and your work-life balance. So, I urge you to take charge of your life. Get in the driver’s seat. Or as poet Diane Ackerman sees it, “I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life.”