Secrets to Aging Well

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of   national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”;  founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court.  Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.


“Secrets to Aging Well”

(Triggers for Happiness)

By Jan Fowler

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

The question of how to age well is one which millions of us have been asking for years.  And I do believe we now recognize that aging well depends upon a combination of factors rather than any one in particular.

We are now learning that in addition to eating healthy foods and maintaining a sensible exercise and sleep routine, triggers for happiness also include thinking good thoughts, experiencing fun and enjoyment, tapping into practical spirituality, finding purpose, and spending time with positive-minded people.

Practicing generosity, giving to others, and enjoying laughter on a daily basis are also among such triggers.  And according to the experts, laughter in particular is an instant mood elevator with sufficient “magical” powers to soothe the soul and prolong lives.

To which I would also add that having a romantic companion or trusted friend to laugh with, talk to, go places with, and do nice things for is another powerful secret for living well.  There is no such thing as having too much joy or laughter in our lives because both add to our overall sense of well-being.

Laughter, in particular, not only lifts our spirits, but also reduces anxiety and helps us cope with that awful feeling of being trapped when difficult situations arise.  There are times in everyone’s life when a few healthy doses of laughter and humor can promote the optimistic expectation of a positive outcome of a worrisome problem.

I might add that one long term study conducted by Mayo Clinic, in fact, found that optimistic people had a 19% chance of still being alive thirty years later.  One staff psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic states, “It tells us that mind and body are linked and that attitude has an impact on the final outcome, death.”

Numerous scientific studies report that laughter boosts the immune system by releasing endorphin, the body’s opium which soothes the mind and lessens pain, lowers blood pressure, offsets stress, and even helps us release Killer R Cells, “the good guys.”  And apparently there is something about belly laughter which massages and jiggles our major organs in such a way that the body is able to trigger its own pain-blocking endorphins.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

Victor Borge

Laughter happens to play a large role in our personal relationships, love life, and even enhances “mating.” In fact, many matchmaking and dating services report that having a sense of humor ranks at the top of the list for most people who are seeking a new mate.  Many men and women are quick to point out that they are especially attracted to someone who laughs easily and laughs frequently.

And don’t we all know how laughter can become contagious and spark an immediate emotional connection between people? Even neuroscientist Robert Provine, Ph.D. and author of Laughter:  A Scientific Investigation (Penguin Books, 2001) comments, “How odd that we can’t help laughing when we hear others laugh.”

So endorphins, endorphins, endorphins…bring “em on!  Whether it’s through strenuous physical exercise, massage therapy, sexual activity—all known triggers for endorphin release—laughter is one sure way to fight off stress and raise us to a level of euphoria.

And since laughter is a proven emotional stress-buster, I urge you to do whatever you can to help others laugh too.  You might memorize a funny little story, keep silly jokes handy in your back pocket, or wear a red clown nose.  Just use your imagination because laughter and embracing the positives are among the best-kept secrets to aging well.

So let’s keep shining on those smiles at everyone we meet—clerks, waiters, even strangers—and watch how laughter, humor, and a cheerful outlook are not only free, fun, and have no negative side-effects, but are highlycontagious, as well. 

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