Healthy To A Hundred: Berit Lewis of Thriving Life On 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life
An interview with Save P. Clemente from the Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine, a Medium publication, is devoted to sharing in-depth, and interesting interviews, featuring people who are authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. They use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable. I have been interviewed by Savio P. Clemente for the popular interview series; Healthy To A Hundred: 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life, where he asks: What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension?
My answers are a bit different to the other medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts he has asked, as they center around how a mindfulness practice can empower us to overcome old thought patterns and cultivate an ability to embrace rather than run away from our age.
My “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? are:
Attentional Control. Our attention is our mental currency, and where we choose to invest it sets the tone for our days and lives. The secret to a thriving life is the ability to be able to choose one thought over another, as this will influence the emotions and physical sensations that follow. If we for instance place all our attention on the things that we can no longer do due to our age, instead of the things we can still enjoy, it will of course make our lives miserable. The good news is that we have the power to choose where to place our attention and we can become better at sustaining our concentration and focus for longer. It just takes practice.
Awareness. As we get better at controlling our attention, we will be able to see what is happening in our minds more clearly. We will see that all our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations are motivated by socially and/or genetically wired needs or desires. This awareness gives us the freedom to make conscious choices about whether to let them rule our lives or not.
Acceptance. We waste so much of our time and energy wishing things were different. Even the things that we know deep down cannot be changed. As mentioned earlier, discomfort and pain are part of life, but our caveman brains are wired to avoid these to survive. However today we are no longer running from the discomfort of being eaten by lions. We are also avoiding the pains of our thoughts and emotions. Ironically this strategy enhances the discomfort by creating even more tension. It is exhausting and can take years of our lives. The key is to practice acceptance. This is not the same as giving up, but rather to wake up to the reality of our situation as it is in the present moment and then be able to look ahead and make choices for how to adapt and move on.
Affection. Words like ‘love’, ‘compassion’ and ‘affection’ are often dismissed as soft skills, but, these feelings are hardcore, and we wouldn’t survive without them. Research has found that compassionate people tend to be happier, healthier, more self-confident, less self-critical, and more resilient. Self-compassion has also been proven to be a significant predictor of overall mental health and well-being. (Self — ) compassion can be hard for some people, but the good news is that is it a skill and like all skills we can improve through practice.
Mental flexibility. In my book Ageing Upwards I suggest an alternative to the traditional biomedical mechanical way of looking at ageing. It is called functional contextualism. Instead of seeing our body as a machine that is slowly breaking down through wear and tear, we can take the context, in which we need to function, into consideration. From this perspective, age-related illness, pain or decline in one or more faculties does not mean that we are broken or dysfunctional, it just means that we find ourselves in new contexts which are open for us to discover. We are not machines created to do just one function. Instead, we can see our lives as a flow of transitions. The key to a thriving life is to float along with the changes, look for creative ways to adapt and try not to hold on to the past.
You can hear me talk about the 5 things in this video;
Or read the whole interview on Authority Magazine here