The quality and quantity of your life is–in large part–up to you. You can be mediocre, let each day pass without intention and before you know it, you’ll be at the end of your time here. Or, you can strive to be your best self and do whatever it takes to live without regrets for as long as possible. Here’s what researchers have found about how to live better, longer.
Assuming that a good life is a long one, it helps to drink java. A study of a half million people in the U.K. found an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and mortality. In other words, people who drink coffee live longer. The positive effect was seen even in people who drink eight or more cups a day and regardless of type of coffee. Instant, ground and even decaffeinated were all found to be beneficial.
Forgive the people who have wronged you.
Researchers have studied what happens when people are able to feel empathy, compassion and understanding toward others who have harmed them, essentially letting go of toxic anger. They’ve found that forgiveness results in lower levels of anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, fewer physical problems and less chance of dying. Tactics which can help you be more forgiving: journaling with a focus on being empathetic, as well as praying for the person who wronged you.
Take a long trip in a foreign country.
It can actually change your personality for the better. Researchers studied a large group of German college students, looking at the “Big Five” traits related to personality: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. Some of the students then studied abroad, while others did not. After the travel period concluded the students were given personality inventories again and the ones who spent months in another country tended to demonstrate higher levels of Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability compared with the students who did not travel.
Prioritize your social relationships.
In a paper published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior the authors reviewed piles of research to make the strong case that social relationships greatly affect your mental and physical health as well as your risk of dying. When you feel loved, supported and listened to your stress level is lower. Supportive relationships also positively affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular functions and reduce wear and tear on the body caused by chronic stress. Plus, the people who care for you probably encourage you to do things like exercise and eat right.
Canadian researchers tested the grip strength of nearly 140,000 people in 17 countries, tracked their health for several years and determined that decreasing grip strength was a more accurate predictor of death or heart disease than blood pressure. Specifically, every 11-pound reduction in grip strength throughout the study was linkedd to a 16 percent higher risk of death from any cause, a 17 percent increased risk of death from heart disease, a 9 percent higher odds of stroke, and a 7 percent higher chance of heart attack. To get and stay strong, Harvard Medical School recommends doing resistance training two to three times a week, with one or two days off between workouts.