Sunday, June 7, 2015

The New Young

Recently, I was reading one of those articles that floats around on Facebook. It was called "7 surprising things that make you live longer." That got my attention. I discovered that:

1. According to researchers, smiling in photographs is good for you. The theory is that people who smile in photos are genuinely happier than people who don't, supposedly a reflection of well-being. These animated people tend to live up to seven years longer than non-smilers.

I don't know how much I smile in daily life, but I can smile when someone says "Cheese!" or "Whiskey!", as they do here in Chile. Does that mean I'm actually happier or just a good at smiling on cue?

2. Next on the list was having "positive" initials. Huh? My initials, "SR," seem neutral. They don't indicate anything negative, but neither are they positive, whereas initials such as ACE, WOW or VIP can allegedly add over four years to your life. I might have to reconsider my nom de plume.

3. Number Three is getting married. While they claim that married people live longer, I've been there-done that, and I'm certain that and the divorce that followed took a few years off my life. I'm in the minus column on this one.

4. Being slightly overweight is Number Four. No problem. I've had this one licked for years.

5. Having religious beliefs helps deal with stress and often creates beneficial social bonding. No argument.

6. It's no surprise that Number Six is also about being social. People who have a strong social network tend to feel less stressed and depressed and often live longer than those who do not. I'm seeing a pattern here.

7. Last, but not least...laughter. Studies have proven that laughter can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and boost your immune system. I once took a laughter class where the teacher explained it all to us. Laughter suppresses our fight-or-flight response and stimulates the vagus nerve which promotes healing.

In Santiago, there is a laughter group which meets once a month in Barrio República. The facilitator leads games that encourage the participants to laugh. At first, you feel ridiculous, then only silly, and afterward lighter and happier. If you'd like information about this laughter group, you can visit Alex de la Risa's Facebook page.

Let's see. It looks like I need to be silly, social, and smiley, even if I have to fake it until I feel it. When I add up the above and subtract out the minuses, I might gain a few years, if the Santiago smog doesn't get me first.

~~Sally Rose
Author of Penny Possible & A Million Sticky Kisses

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