The Keys to Growing Young
Can friendship, optimism, and kindness help you live to 100? Marta Zaraska, author of Growing Young joins The Retirement Wisdom Podcast to explain how the research indicates it can through the mind-body connection.
We discuss with Marta:
- What inspired her to write Growing Young
- Where some of us may be overinvesting and underinvesting based on scientific research on longevity
- How optimism and pessimism may affect longevity
- Why superfoods, supplements and “quick fixes” aren’t the wise moves to make
- Her favorite stories from her travels and experiments while researching her book
- Which things lower and which things raise mortality risk based on the research, including a few that may surprise you
- Lessons that may be helpful in quarantine
- What Longevity Habits to create
“There is so much research showing that optimism can add anywhere from four to 10 years of life. The number 10 years keeps reappearing in studies over and over. For example, Catholic Nuns, which are perfect groups of study because, you know, they all live in basically the same environment, their whole lives, especially those who entered very, very young. And there was a study exactly like that. They eat the same thing. They wake up at the same hour, they live in the same place doing exactly the same things. And there was one famous study that analyzed their diaries and those who are using the most cheerful language, the most optimistic language outlasted those who are using very gloomy, pessimistic words in the writing by exactly about 10 years. And the same was shown, for example, on autobiographies of famous psychologists on even the orangutans in zoos, you know, when they are evaluated by the zookeepers. Those who have the most cheerful, outgoing personalities outlive the more pessimistic, gloomy orangutans by 10 years as well. So it keeps coming back to the 10 years.”
On Longevity Habits
“When I think about diet and exercise, which again, are still important, but it’s very much inward-looking. So it’s very much an ‘all about me’ kind of thing – my body, my diet, my exercise. But when I think about those soft longevity habits, it’s more about looking outwards outside of yourself. I’m thinking about other people. So, when you wake up, just think: What can I do for others today? How can I be nicer? How can I contribute to my neighborhood, to my family? How can I be nice to my partner or to my neighbors or to my friends? – things like that. Very, very simple, but this is a change of perspective. And I think that this can make a tremendous difference. Of course, there are very practical suggestions in my book as well. For example, do more things in synchrony with others.
“There is an amazing effect with synchrony actually has an asset. For example, when we do things in sync with others, that boosts of those social hormones that we get out of it is actually double. So for example, when you dance with other people and when you sing with them, it makes you feel connected. And it releases all the social hormones that have beneficial health effects for you, such as endorphins, which are natural painkillers. But when you do it in synchrony, the effects are doubled. So for example, chorus singing or line dancing is kind of my career. So there are very, very practical tips out there as well for people to try.”
Marta Zaraska is a science journalist whose work has been published in The Washington Post, Scientific American, New Scientist, and The Atlantic.
Her first book, “Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million Year Obsession with Meat” was chosen by the journal Nature as one of “the best science picks” in 2016.
Her new book, “Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100” was published in May 2020 and endorsed by Dan Buetner, (author “Blue Zones”), Emeran Mayer (“Mind-Gut Connection”), Shawn Anchor (“Big Potential”), among others.
It’s a research-driven case for why optimism, kindness, and strong social networks will keep us living longer than any fitness tracker or superfood.
Marta’s articles and books have been turned into TV programs in the US, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany and Poland, and reprinted around the globe from Oman and Dubai to Australia and Singapore. She has been interviewed by dozens of radio stations in North America and across Europe. She has given a TEDx talk at Bocconi University, Milan, and has been featured as an expert in several documentary films.
She has visited over 80 countries around the world and lived in six of them. She has reported from Rwanda, DR Congo, Nicaragua, India, Togo, Cameroon, and many other places. She lives in a tiny French village with her husband and daughter.
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