The Secret to Longer Life

1 Dec

I was glancing over the Nov 30th edition of USA Today when an article in the Life/Health section caught my eye: “The secret to longer life may surprise you.” was the headline and underneath and to the left was the second smaller headline: “You will be as surprised as I to learn how the most selfless caregivers are rewarded with greater longevity.”

Captivated, I plunged into the article itself, written by journalist, lecturer Gail Sheehy, who has also authored 16 books about the various stages of adult life, including Passages in Caregiving.

In her article, Ms Sheehy reveals that the dog-eat-dog bias so long a staunch stronghold of American culture is giving away to one that respects and extols the virtues of caring.

Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley are reported to be rediscovering Darwin’s original intent of his theory of evolution, which supports a view of the success of the human species being due to its “nurturing, altruistic and compassionate traits.”  They attribute the more domineering mis-interpretation Darwin’s work to his “male popularizers.”

For those who might scoff or dismiss this as a feminist reaction, Sheehy points to current scientific brain research that reveals our brain and nervous system are actually “wired” for the capacity to care.

Berkeley and Stanford Universities have set up compassion centers where they are studying and teaching the theory of the “Survival of the Kindest,” which appears to be gaining status as a cultural movement, as a 25-year greed cycle is showing signs of atrophying in this country.

Recently, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates challenged wealthy Americans to make a pledge to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. The project is called “The Giving Pledge,” and the pledge letters that are already on the site have come from a diverse population of people coming forward to practice thanksgiving through generosity.

In the traditional ways of Grandmother Parisha’s people, one half of one’s wealth is offered back to Creator in appreciation and acknowledgement of The Source (God/Creator). The best 50% of the crops were made “give-away.”  Today, when the medium of exchange is money, it would be one half of one’s income.  There is never fear of lack or scarcity amongst those who practice this Principle. They understand that all that comes to us is from The Source. They also understand that to hoard is to block our flow of abundance.

Sheehy shared another  interesting study of “a group of older adults caring  for  family members with dementia and other illnesses” by Associate Professor of  Preventive  Medicine at SUNY-Stony Brook,  Stephanie  Brown.  Ms. Brown discovered that this population of caregivers who gave more than 14 hours of care in a week were “less likely to die in a seven-year period than their peers.”

One tremendous example of this is Mother Teresa, who spent over 45 of her 87 years of life caring for those who were sick, poor, orphaned and dying. She was a woman of slight build but enormous energy. Pope John Paul II praised Mother Teresa’s “strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others.”

Grandmother Parisha has often shared with us that our greatest role here on earth is to be of Service to others. Now, it appears that this simple Principle is also a key not only to a more fulfilling life, but a longer one as well.

– Deborah Adler

©2010 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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