Insights: Live to 101 with Purpose

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Finding a balance between our career, family and friends, charity work, social time, and alone time, mentally, physically and spiritually, is not always easy, and to know where the lines between others and ourselves need to be drawn can be challenging.

Taking time for ourselves is extremely important to be able to regroup, energize and grow as a person. Yet it is also imperative that we take time to be with others, especially in groups.

Over the past few months I have been working extra-long hours; however a friend insisted that I take time out last night. One thing about Newport Beach, there is never a shortage of places to go to be around other people.

So with some resistance I headed out for the evening with some friends. Even though we were up a little later than my normal bedtime, I was surprised at how alert and energized I felt today. I look back and can see how the intellectual stimulation, and knowing others care, really made me feel happier, more alive and more connected.

Then I happened to read an article on the importance of social activity for our brain, body and mind. This article goes on to say that group social activities helps prevent cognitive decline. Reading further, a study of over 3,400 people, 50 years or older, proved that group activities such as book clubs, or community organizations, decreases cognitive decline.

People around 50 years of age performed about five years younger, while 80 year olds performed 10 years younger on average when involved in group activities.

We have seen studies for years of how important relationships in general are for our mental and physical health, but this just takes it a step further to our cognitive ability.

I find living here in Newport Beach there is never a shortage of activities we can engage in. I am always impressed what the Oasis center puts on for people or the community recreational center. They offer anything from belly dancing and retirement planning to performing arts visits to learning how to use computer software.

I am a big fan of Rotary and the work they do in the community. There is not enough room in this article to talk about the charity work that can be done.

Life is intentional though, it just does not happen. These activities do not just happen, we have to be conscious of what we need to be the best version of ourselves rather than just letting life happen.

If we are to live to be in our 80s and 90s and maybe even longer, we want to be at our best in all areas: physically, emotionally and mentally. So make this year matter, be cognoscente of what this year is to be about so when you are reading my article next year, you can say to yourself, last year mattered, I made an impact, I did what I wanted, I made a different and I paid attention to my health and became the best version of myself.

While doing my doctorate I researched how to live to be 101 years old. Some of the key areas was that we stay connected with others, that we keep learning, and we keep ourselves active physically.

Being involved in a group can meet all these needs. Here are just a few ways you could get involved in a group in Newport Beach: Rotary Clubs, look up ‘Meetup’ groups and you’ll be overwhelmed by the options, join the Oasis Center if you are over 50 years of age, volunteer at Hoag Hospital.

How about the Sierra club to find others who hike in the area, or a cycling club?

As Maria Gibbs wrote, “I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks.”

Otherwise life will pass you by. I want to know when I am 80 years of age that I have used up every part of myself, yes every part. How about you?

Contact Shelly at DrZavala.com or [email protected]

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