Ways to Live the Good Life Now

By:
Stephanie Chong

Earlier this week, Dr. Mallory Williams, Professor of Surgery and Chief Division of Trauma & Critical Care Department of Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine met with us to discuss Living The Good Life Now. Dr. Williams led us through an engaging and inspiring discussion full of information that was too good to keep to ourselves! Read on about how small changes can make a big impact on your quality of life.

Is Your Glass Half Full? Research shows that people with an optimistic world view live longer. Optimists tend to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking. Optimists also tend to deal with stressful situations well by problem-solving, making a plan, and calling on others for help. An optimistic attitude, or living with an optimistic life partner, can even help reduce your risk of dementia!

Don’t worry if an optimistic outlook doesn’t come naturally to you, there are ways to work at increasing your capacity for optimism. Some examples include, take time each day to give thanks, take a moment before responding to a stressful situation and consider other positive ways to handle it, set a small and reasonable goal and take steps to attain it, and evaluate what you can and cannot control.

Laughter is the Best Medicine. Dr. Williams said, “If you are not laughing and having a good time, you are wasting time.” While a funny show or meme might bring on a smile or even a laugh, true belly laughter happens when we connect with others. Prioritize spending time with the people who make you happy and make time to socialize with friends old and new.

Maintain Balance. Dr. Williams stressed that falling is not a natural part of aging, yet 1 in 4 older adults suffer a fall each year. There are a number of fall risks that we have little control over, like mobility problems, poor eyesight, cognitive impairment, multiple medication and incontinence. But there are two risk factors that we can control: balance/muscle weakness and hazards in the home.

Dr. Williams recommends 30-minutes of exercise most days to help strengthen your muscles. There are proven exercises that improve balance including, Matter of Balance, Tai Chi, and YMCA Moving for Better Balance. As for your home, remove throw rugs, install grab bars in the bathroom, maintain adequate lighting, remove clutter, and watch out for pets. Proper shoes are also important for fall prevention. The Medical Alert Buyers Guide lists the Top Five Shoes for Fall Prevention.

Want to learn more about how to live your best life? Check out this article in the Washington Post about optimism and longevity, and this National Geographic article about the healthy lifestyle choices you can make to prevent disease and increase longevity.

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