If You Knew You Were Going To Live A Long Time – What Would You Change?

by DavalosMcCormack on July 6, 2010

Eubie Blake was a great American composer and jazz musician. He was also a dab hand with a quote. Once when asked if he had any bad habits he said “I don’t have any bad habits. They might be bad habits for other people but they’re all right for me.” But my favorite Eubie Blake quote is when he was asked, after reaching the ripe old age of 99, for his thoughts on getting older; he said “If I’d known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.”

Jazz musician Eubie Blake

Eubie Blake

That came to mind the other day when I read about a new study in the journal Science where two researchers at Boston University School of Medicine analyzed the DNA of more than 1,000 people who lived to 100 or more, and found that a small group of genetic markers could be used to predict which of us are likely to live a long life, with 77 percent accuracy.

Think about that for a minute. A simple test that could predict whether you have the right genes to live to be 100 years or older.  First of all, would you even want to know? Secondly, if you did want to know and found out that you were one of the fortunate few with the right genetic make-up, would you do anything differently?

Getting to a ripe old age is all fine and good, but wouldn’t you want to get there in good shape so that you can really enjoy it. There’s little point in living to be 100 if the last 30 or more years of your life are spent in pain or with you unable to do the things you would love to because you are so overweight you can’t get around or you don’t have the energy or stamina or even enthusiasm you need.

And it’s not just getting to be 100 in good shape. Think about the next 50, 60, 70 years that you are going to have. Wouldn’t you want to be in good shape so that you can enjoy all of those along the way?

So, imagine you were told you were might live to be 100. What would you change now or do differently to ensure that you’ll get there in style and with some fun still left in you.

  • Would you try to lose weight
  • Would you try to exercise more
  • Would you decide that maybe heroin wasn’t the best approach for stress management
  • Would you be nicer to the people around you knowing you were going to be around them, some of them anyway, for a long time
  • Would you decide you really do want to learn Spanish or Mandarin or Xhosa and so what if it takes years and years, you’ve got the time
  • Would you decide that being a chartered accountant – a fine and honorable profession – really isn’t you and that you really want to be a matador
  • Would you decide that being a matador really lacked stability and security and you’d feel more comfortable being a chartered accountant.

And if you would make those changes knowing you could live to be 100, why not make those changes knowing you might only live to be 60 or 70 or 80. No matter how old you live to be, don’t you want to be in good shape when you get there, and more importantly don’t you want to be in good shape every step along the way so that you get to do what you want to do while you can.

In short. Your genes may say you have a great chance of living to be 100, but life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. So, plan to live to be 100, do things that will keep you healthy and strong and mentally and emotionally alive all the way to the end. But live like the end could be any day now. Because one day you’ll be right and boy will you regret it if you have kept putting off all the things you really want to do.

Me? I’m already saving to take Shirley to the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014. In the meantime we’re going to teach our grand daughter, the fabulous Emma Danger,

Emma Danger

Emma Danger

how to play football (aka soccer) so that one day she might play in the World Cup. And I’m going to take good care of myself to make sure I’m there to see it when it happens.

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