At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850,000 lives worldwide every year. Depression was the fourth leading contributor to the global burden of disease in the year 2000, and the WHO estimates that by the year 2020, depression will rate second for all ages and both sexes.
Knowing so much about clinical depression both academically and from personal experience has taught me the secret to longevity. It’s simple. Those who truly enjoy their life and feel that they are living it to the fullest, are those who want to continue living as long as possible. Those who feel stuck in depressing circumstances and see no way out, are most vulnerable to ending their lives either at their own hand or unconsciously through illnesses, accidents, etc.
When asked, most centenarians (those 100+) felt that their love of life was their best reason for living so long. There’s the challenge then, creating the kind of life you want to live indefinitely.
In a meeting of Northern Colorado Writers this week, the director Kerrie Flanagan asked the thought provoking question, “At what age of your present life, do you wish you could have stayed indefinitely?” Many answered their 20s and 30s. It is perfectly clear to me that my 50s have been by far the happiest time in my life, for that is when I finally found true love!
That is not to say that my new husband and I don’t have our daily challenges. We do. But having such a loving and loyal life partner has made the biggest difference to both of us. This is the first time EVER I have felt so loved and appreciated day-to-day. For me, this is what makes life worthwhile.
I credit my own midlife crisis with making me feel so hopeless and alone that I finally did what I needed to do to find a satisfying life for myself. The sudden awareness that my life was easily half over, was the perfect incentive for me to get going and change as much as I could so that I could finally find a higher level of contentment for myself. This included the essential awareness that I had lost my belief in love, and all the wonderful benefits of living with someone who truly cared about me.
I now believe, the best incentive for living a long life is to live a life full of self-compassion as well as compassion for those you meet along the way, and then find a way to appreciate your life every single day. If you need help with the gratitude part, take the time to go watch this five minute video, to start you on the right track!
Remember: There is always something is be thankful for.
P.S. Just sent my new book to the printer!