By Lillian Pearl Bridges
The ancient Chinese believed that human beings could live to be 150 years old – if you lived properly and you could live even longer if you lived spiritually according to Daoist precepts. The Chinese were quite obsessed about longevity and many of the oldest texts in Chinese Medicine, such as The Niejing, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic spend a lot of time describing exactly how to best achieve a long life. The recommendations involve such common sense practices such as eating properly, sleeping enough, moving naturally and managing the emotions. This advice still holds true today, although it is much harder to achieve these goals in the modern era of information overload, massive electrical stimulation and stress.
These days, it is quite possible to live to be 100 and there are growing numbers of centenarians in the world. What are their secrets? Researchers have spent many years interviewing and evaluating the data to try to understand what allows some people to live so long. Most of the longest-lived people do not actually know how they got there. Scientists point to longevity genes and the presence of longer telomeres – tips of DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes as one of the markers of inherited longevity. But many people live much longer than their parents, so there are clearly other factors at work. Many lifestyle factors have been evaluated, touted and rejected as ways of living a long life, such as eating certain foods, eating less, drinking only special kinds of water, exercising in certain way, ingesting various foods, herbs, vitamins, minerals and beverages, etc. While many of these things may help and some may even cause harm, none of them have been proven to be the magic bullet that increases lifespan. So what does work in the search for a longer life?
In my work as a Face Reader, I almost always start out a consultation asking my clients if they want to live a long time. Their answers are so revealing! If someone says, “Not if I am going to be in pain” or “Not if I am not fully functional” or “Not if I lose my mind” or various other negative expectations of aging, they are not prepared to live a long life, and frankly, probably won’t. In contrast, the ones who answer, “Yes, I want to live to be really old” are the ones who are taking care of themselves in a way that makes it more likely. They are usually prepared to live moderately enough to get there and have the anticipation of life still be enjoyable and worth living. And, most likely, they have some pretty strong reasons to .keep on living
While scientific research shows that it is extremely important to have a strong social network in order to live a long time, it is equally important to have personal reasons to live that go beyond other important people in your life as these are the reasons that give your life meaning and purpose. It is simply not enough to live long enough to see your children graduate or your grandchildren get born or even to retire. In fact, the several years after retirement turn out to be the most dangerous time of potential mortality as shown on actuarial tables that insurance companies use to determine how to calculate life insurance. Why would this be? Why do so many people wait and long for retirement and then aren’t able to enjoy it or don’t even get to do it for very long? Because retirement as a goal is not life enhancing. It’s not wrong to retire; it is just that it is so crucial to have things to do that involve your mind and your spirit even if you change what you do or how much you do it. I often tell people that a better word would be to call retirement your “transition” from doing one thing, such as working at a job, to working at something that gives you soul satisfaction, paid or not and that includes hobbies and passions. It means that you continue to “do” but it is really about doing things that bring out your creativity, gives you more joy and helps others. It is about being more and more “you” in the world and giving yourself and your knowledge back to the world as a gift. The key here is to be you – the real you. Not the pretend you that follows the rules and acts appropriately and plays roles. It is critical to become uniquely you. Eccentricity is one of the hallmark personality traits in the long-lived elderly.
The people who live to be the oldest don’t necessarily follow all the latest medical advice or do what is thought to be all the right things. Instead, they eat chocolate cake for breakfast and sometimes smoke cigars, indulge in red wine and other alcohol, eat lots of butter and do a lot of what they really want to do, not what someone else thinks they should do. They know themselves. They instinctively and intuitively understand who they are and live their life accordingly. This is the real self-nurturing and self love that we are all trying to achieve. The Tao Te Ching contains a quote that says something like (to paraphrase), “To know others is to become wise, to know yourself is to become enlightened.” The Chinese revere the elderly for their wisdom and especially honor those who emanate enlightened thinking and we should too.
How do you find out who you are? That’s where Face Reading has helped me to understand that we come in with what is called your “Original Face.” This is a fundamental concept of Daoism that presupposes that everyone comes in as who they really are in terms of personality and predestination and that through the process of socialization, we lose track of our real selves and what we are supposed to do, which I call your Golden Path. It then takes many years to reclaim our authentic selves and start living in a way that resonates. How do you get back to the original you?
Well from the ancient Chinese science of Face Reading, you can see in the structure of the features on the face many clues as to the fundamental personality. All these traits are valuable reminders of your true nature. There is a reason why you are so stubborn as seen in a strong chin, or so passionate, as seen from strong eyebrows or so sensitive as seen the refined tips and corners. These are all signs of the real you. But where do you go when you get socialized?
From the Facial Map of Life Experiences, (insert Facial Maps) you can find the ages in a person’s life there were traumas that suppressed the real self and years where the real self was present and happy, because being yourself is so rewarding. This map marks like rings of a tree that show which years were difficult, such as suffering from a drought and years of plenty and growth. There is also an old Chinese saying: “You can find out who someone really is by observing them before the age of 3.” Natural talents and abilities show then and are encouraged and appreciated. It is the time long before you have to worry about how to be practical, make a living or fit into society.
My best advice is stop trying so hard to be something or someone else and get back to being yourself and doing what you do well and enjoy doing. Live life fully as yourself. Living this way will give you what the French call “Joie de Vivre.” I believe that it is the only way to live and the may be one of the most critical keys to living a long and healthy life. For don’t we all want to live our own best life? It’s up to you to rediscover yourself and live your life – your way.