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It is certain that we will all die, as certain as the sun rises in the east. The reason is that we are mortal. But we would be foolish if we are constantly anticipating our death and morbidly thinking about our inevitable demise.

We should instead strive to improve the quality of our lives and try to be happy every day. After all, pursuit of happiness is the reason of our existence in this world.

While the aging process, which started the day we were born, cannot be stopped, we can slow down the clock. Our goal should be long life — a healthy long life. Although healthy longevity is easier said than done, it can be done. Many elderly people have done it. Several of them are so healthy that they are still capable of doing things which young people can do.

One of them is former US President Bush who at age over 80 went skydiving on his recent birthday. (His wife Barbara, when asked by a reporter if she, too, is going to skydive on her next birthday, retorted, “I am not an idiot.”) Astronaut John Glenn repeated his journey into space. In the Philippines, former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR), who is now over 80, is still fit enough to be participating in marathons.

Most healthy old people have overshot the 80-year or 90-year mark because of one important thing – healthy lifestyle. Most of them exercise regularly, take alcohol only on occasions, eat healthy food and don’t smoke. (FVR, although he is always seen with a cigar dangling from his lip, is not really smoking it.)

Of course, there are exceptions. One of them is the great Winston Churchill. He smoked like a chimney and drank a lot of coffee and whiskey, but he lived up to over age 90. The reason is that he was blessed with resilient genes or DNA.

But all genes are not created equal. So people like us who are not blessed with super genes ought to have healthy lifestyle to enable us to have “successful aging.”

In his bestseller book entitled “Live Now, Age Later,” Dr. Isadore Rosenfield declared that there are many roadblocks on the way to successful aging – like diseases – but the good news is that “you can anticipate, prevent, delay or modify most of the contributory factors so that they don’t make you sick and old before your time.”

Rosenfeld listed seven things we can do to have a healthy long life. These include feeling content. He said, “You cannot attain contentment by being a gourmand at the table of life” or by being not contented with whatever you have. You can work hard to realize your ambition, but if you keep raising the bar, you would never be contented. If you fail, you would feel bitter, frustrated, angered and envious – emotions which Rosenfeld described as the “handmaidens and harbingers of disease.”

The six other things we can do, according to Rosenfeld, are: 1) Exercise regularly; 2) Avoid being overweight; 3) Don’t smoke; 4) Limit alcohol intake; 5) Find a good doctor; and 6) Don’t take yourself too seriously.

In telling us not take things seriously, Rosenfeld reminds us that laughter is the best medicine. He said, “Learn how to laugh – at yourself first. Belly laugh is the best medicine, either brand name or generic. And you can never overdose with it.”

He also discussed diseases that afflict the elderly. These include Alzheimer’s, cancer, depression, heart attacks, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, cataract, tinnitus and loss of vision. He likewise discussed ways how we can prevent these diseases from afflicting us and ways to treat them if we suffer from them. If a terminal illness afflicts us, there are ways to delay the inevitable.

Rosenfeld said that if we heed his advice, chances are we would live a long healthy life — barring accidents and reckless behavior. He gave us a simple advice regarding road accidents: Fasten your seat belt.

But there is time for everything on this earth. There is a time to be born, a time to get married, a time to raise children… and, eventually, a time to die. And we should be ready when the time comes for us to meet our Maker.

We, Christians, know that doing good deeds to our fellow men, particularly the poor, would make us ready to answer Christ’s question, “What have you done to the least of my brethren?”

If we haven’t begun helping the less fortunate, we should start now before it is too late.

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My present occupation is Owner and Journalist-Editor of the Filipino Star News, Michigan edition. Former Manila Bulletin Provincial News Editor. President of the National Press Club of the Philippines for five terms.


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