Resilience and Living to 100

Will being resilient help me live to 100? Maybe. Here’s why.

  1. I have learned that resilient people live with purpose. There is growing evidence that people who have meaningful lives not only live longer but are less likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. What does it mean to live with purpose? For me, what is purposeful has changed many times. I have experienced career changes, raised a family, and am caring for an aging parent. My goals continue to shift and priorities change but what is important is to continue to have purpose however you define it for yourself.   
  2. Something else I’ve learned is that people who are resilient, perhaps because they have a reason to get up in the morning, take better care of themselves. It stands to reason that if I have a compelling reason to be around as long as I can, that I’m going to take better care of myself. So I’m going to pay attention to my diet, sleep, and exercise. This leads to a healthier life and maybe to a longer life as well.
  3. I read a recent study on longevity reported by the BBC that emphasized the importance of being connected to others for a long life. The finding is similar to Dan Buettner’s work on the world’s Blue Zones where people live long and productive lives. Resilient people don’t isolate themselves or withdraw from life but stay interested and involved in their communities.
  4. A real threat to health and longevity is psychological depression. The World Health Organization reported in 2017 that psychological depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability in the world. In my research over the past 30 years with several thousand people, I’ve learned that as resilience scores go up, depression goes down.  Does resilience have an effect on depression and therefore the quality and length of life? Probably yes. I think that as we work to live with purpose, take care of ourselves, and stay connected to others, that these behaviors are antithetical to depression. I’ve learned that when I neglect my health or isolate myself, or feel aimless for too many days or weeks, that I also begin to slide into depression. Do you find that true for yourself as well?  So as we build up resilience, we lessen the probability of depression and maybe improve the quality and length of our lives.

Think about these four things to live a long and satisfying life, whether you reach 100 or not:

  1. Make sure you have goals both short term (goals for today) and long term (goals six months from now).
  2. Take care of yourself. Eat nutritiously, move some every day, and get the rest you need.
  3. Stay connected to others in your life. Stay engaged and interested in the world around you.
  4. Do what you can to prevent depression or ameliorate the effects of depression by building up your resilience.