Life expectancy is affected by many factors. These include diet and exercise, smoking, mental state, environment, career, spirituality, social interaction and support. One of the most easily controlled aspects in my lives is my nutrition and exercise. My physical well-being directly impacts on my life expectancy. I am aware of the value of a well-balanced diet – rich in fruit, and vegetables, low in fat and red meat, the recommended daily allowances for all of these. I can ensure that I follow the advice of medical professionals about what and when to eat and in what quantities.
I tend to stick to a no-starch diet, but I believe that that does not provide for a balanced diet, and that I should include starches in limited amounts. I go to a neighbourhood gym five times a week, and spend at least an hour there each time, but I only joined the gym and began morning walks about a year ago. I will continue to attend the gym and can increase the regularity of my walks. The biggest change that I can make to increase my life expectancy is to stop smoking cigarettes.
I began smoking at 17, smoked for 25 years, stopped for 5 years and restarted a year ago. I now smoke 10 cigarettes a day, and this is obviously quite detrimental to my health. I will at the very least cut back my smoking to a half of my present consumption. One’s mental state either contributes to longevity or it can detract dramatically from it. To continue to have a stable, contented frame of mind, I will continue to go to the Raj Yoga Centre in St Augustine, where I meditate, learn about the power of positive energy, peace, compassion, the cycle of life and serenity.
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As a recovering addict I can continue to attend weekly N/A follow up meetings where I have a network of support and advice which helps my emotional balance and gives me a feeling of not being alone in the journey of recovery. My environment affects my life expectancy – both physical and emotional environment. I recently changed my physical environment from one of isolation and distance from my family and an emotional desert to a gated community where there is little or no crime, I am able to leave my doors open until I go to bed at midnight and I am surrounded by trees, open spaces and fresh air.
I have an incredible view of the Northern Range which instils in me a sense of eternity and timelessness. I am closer to my loved ones, feel more fulfilled and am much happier now. I can continue to make the choices that will add to my well-being, shedding fear of change and trusting in my knowledge of what is best for me. My career choice will also either lengthen or shorten my life p. I enjoy the challenge of study because it keeps my mind active and agile and I enjoy new knowledge.
Spirituality, my connection with my Higher Power, has changed my outlook on life entirely, giving me a renewed faith and sense of optimism and hope. I can strengthen and deepen this bond by continuing to attend church regularly, applying the philosophies to everyday living, positive self-talk and remaining in communion with my Higher Power throughout the day. Finally, I can make positive changes in my social and interaction and support. I tend to be a loner, shouldering my life and responsibilities and problems alone and isolating myself a lot, choosing not to interact very much with others.
I realize that interaction (desired or not) is important for my emotional well-being and feeling of belonging, so I can widen my social circles and choose to interact regularly. I scuba dive, do hand gun target practice at Tucker Valley, go motorbike riding, attend meditation classes, go to the gym, walk, work and yet it is possible to partake in all of these activities without interacting other than on a most superficial level. HOW DOES PROJECTED LIFE EXPECTANCY IMPACT LIFE GOALS? The awareness of one’s expected life p must necessarily impact one’s life goals.
This knowledge will affect whether one exercises, smokes, does drugs, takes vitamins, furthers education, marries, has children, how one eats, chooses a career, attends church, whether or not one purchases property or rents, becomes involved in the community or practices safe sex. A teenager who is told that he will live only until he is twenty-five, is likely to spend the intervening years focusing on short-term gratification – he will see no need to study further, develop deep emotional intimate relationships, marry, plan a career, plan for retirement or expend energy on purchasing his own property.
His life goals at this juncture will probably consist of fathering a child to leave some sort of footprint on the planet, exploration of sensual pleasures, world travel, and possibly the quest for a spiritual bonding and serenity. On the other hand, a twenty-five year old who realizes that he will live to be eighty-five, will then begin to plan for a sixty years of future. His goals will include healthful old age, enough money to care for himself and his family up to his death, a home to live in and a clear mind with which to enjoy these things.
As education is the key to many of these goals, he is likely to focus on furthering his education so that he improves the likelihood of a financially lucrative career. He will look at having a career rather than just a job, and will choose a career which will bring him mental and emotional satisfaction. He will set good mental and physical health as a life goal, as he will want clarity of mind and physical strength and the ability to be active for his old age.
He will plan for a family – spouse, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – and knowing that these will be his support and comfort in his old age, is more likely to work toward close bonds with them. His is less likely to get divorced, abuse his children, abandon his family, or suffer from a midlife crisis. He is secure in his knowledge of a long life and will set his goal as preparing to make it as fulfilling and comfortable as possible.
He will include spirituality in his life, looking for a relationship with his Higher Power to set as a foundation for his life. Projected life expectancy impacts on life goals because we can reasonably predict the time p necessary to complete or reap the benefits of certain processes. A short life expectancy removes certain goals from the picture, such as Masters’ Degrees, home purchase, pension and retirement plans and making one’s first million dollars.
On the other hand, a long life ahead will call for long-term goals, retirement funds, proper health and mental care, exercise, due care of the spiritual self, an extended family and the satisfaction of community involvement. It is inevitable that the expectation of a particular life p will affect one’s behavior, life goals, life style choices and planning. DOES EDUCATION PLAY A ROLE IN LONGEVITY? Education is the most significant factor in longevity. All life choices which affect our life expectancy, with the exception of genetics and culture are shaped by education and knowledge.
Education instructs us about a proper balanced diet – despite the influence of culture on our eating habits, we can and do adjust our consumption to more closely align with globally accepted guidelines for healthier choices, serving sizes, low fat and cholesterol diets and regular physical exercise. Knowledge gained through education also can sway us away from cigarette smoking, use of illegal and dangerous drugs, sexual experimentation and exploration and risky lifestyles. Further education (past primary and secondary level) can also prepare us for financial stability.
This impacts many facets of our lives – such as the ability to afford regular, competent health care, frequent check-ups and technologically advanced treatment if necessary. As Trinidadians are generally unable to afford health insurance, and what the government provides is sketchy at best, an individual is much better off being self-sufficient in this area. Economic well-being also enables us to purchase the most nutritionally beneficial foods – snacks and junk food are a lot cheaper than fruits and vegetables.
As our physical environment also predestines us to one life p or another, the ability to move from an unhealthy, unstable one to a clean, quiet, safe, green living space is important – this too is driven by financial means, which results from education. A sense of fulfillment and purpose is crucial to our extended life expectancy, and this is also aided by education – exposure to groups with which we can volunteer, causes about which we are passionate, how we can be a vital part of our community and nation.
Our spiritual connection which is key to our coping skills and sense of optimism and hope is fueled by education – further knowledge of the God of our understanding. Education, therefore, more than anything else can extend our life expectancy. ARE THERE ANY CATEGORIES THAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED? LIST AND DISCUSS I believe that three categories that should be included are genetics, environment and spirituality.
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