Two ways to shorten your life – without trying!

Write a book.

I cannot begin to count the number of web pages I have seen on prolonging one’s life – the vital information we all really want to know, is that not so? We all want a magic elixir but, I have come to realise, the secret ingredient that can make us live forever unfortunately does not exist. What we do not realise, usually too late (or nearly) is that we really need to know what we are actually doing to shorten our lives, and change it.

As a child I can remember thinking ‘I’m not going to die. I am going to live forever’. Yes, I really believed that. Death happened to other people, definitely not to me. Oh blissful ignorance! What a wake-up call I received as my body aged.

No-one needs to be told what we should be doing. There is a mountain of literature on that subject, and a whole world wide web of pages too numerous for us ever to read them all before we die.

The good news is that some of the things we should not do are obvious. However, there are so many things that are not so obvious.

Take vitamin pills:

Some years ago after feeling out of sorts for weeks, I took myself off to my local Boots the Chemist. I spent a long time looking at every bottle and box of pills and after half an hour realised I had not a clue what I needed, or what was best for me to purchase. I decided to ask the Chemist. He was helpful, and I asked him about taking vitamin C. Everyone should take lots of vitamin C, should they not? The bottles and boxes had various strengths, 100mg, 200mg, 500mg and 1000mg.

‘How much vitamin C do I actually need on a daily basis,’ I asked the chemist.

‘About 75mg,’ he replied.

‘If that is so, why are you selling these higher doses?’ I asked.

He replied, ‘Because people like you buy them.’

Obviously people like me are just a source of income! I decided not to buy vitamin C, but made a promise to myself to investigate more natural sources of vitamin C.

The point of relating this tale is; Do not self medicate. You could be doing yourself more harm than you realise. Your body functions well most of the time if you eat a balanced diet. Overdoses of any vitamins can be detrimental to your health, even vitamin C, the scientists have confirmed. Buy vitamin pills only after being advised to do so by a qualified doctor. Even the simplest overdoses can be harmful. An overdose of water can kill you – did you know? There are numerous examples of ‘death by water’ (not drowning) online.

“Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by overhydration.” From Wikipedia. Accessed 30 June 2015.

Another less obvious way of killing yourself is not to have hobbies, especially if you are the academic type. Academics are clever people who focus in one area of expertise (usually). They know a lot about that subject, and I have great respect for them. People with demanding jobs or professions, like directors, senior managers, specialists in their field, usually work really hard throughout their lives, until retirement.

Then what?

Having been at the top of their professions, these people who do not have hobbies feel like stranded, isolated, whales. They do not know what to do with themselves and they can become bored by the lack of challenge in their daily lives. They do not always keep in touch with ex-colleagues and become out of touch with their chosen area until they begin to feel useless and unwanted. That is a time when it is all to easy to sink into a depression.

Depression is a silent killer. Hobbies are vital for everyone, to help keep the mind active and provide a source of pleasure and interest. They do not have to cost anything. Walking is free (take exercise). Write a book, or poetry (stretch your mind). Volunteer somewhere (meet new people). Take up a new interest, any interest. Hobbies provide happiness, satisfaction, challenge, and contentment. It does not matter what the hobby is. Just get one, preferably before retirement when you can look forward to retirement knowing you will have more time to spend on your hobby.

Of course there are lots of ways to inadvertently shorten your life, but I think these two will (I hope) be enough to set you thinking about your lifestyle, for now.

As you know, we all die sometime, but why not have something pleasant to do in the meantime, especially after your working life has ceased? All work and no play really is not good!

Life is as good as you make it. Is it not?

© VW Selburn 2015

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