6

votes

Why are so many obsessed with Longevity?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 19, 2011 at 8:03 AM

I am into living the healthiest life I can, while I'm here. If it prolongs my life, so be it...but that isn't my goal. I am looking for intense quality not quantity.

I can't wrap my mind around why people want to live for as long as possible, it seems more fear based than anything else.

It's a curious thing, what are your thoughts?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:33 PM

Yeah, sad that we who aren't religious have to respect the views of those who believe, but that those who believe don't respect ours.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 21, 2011
at 01:01 AM

and last but not least, let your dreams be your healing...

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:57 AM

and always kepp relaxed.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Enjoy the time you have and enjoy your sucess and the lovely time.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 20, 2011
at 11:44 PM

I had the chance to die once, simply by doing nothing (it was a tubal pregnancy). And I'd been suicidally depressed for quite a while, too, so it would have been very easy to just bleed out and go. Turns out that even though my mind "thought" I wanted to die, my body fought like a bitch, and in its own way, made me go to the ER instead. I think it's good to be scared shitless of dying, for the most part, until you have no choice in the matter. Death doesn't really need us to give it a fair chance; it always wins in the end.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on November 20, 2011
at 10:55 PM

Probably TL;DR or someone with deep religious views

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 20, 2011
at 01:27 PM

And this was downvoted because?

C44bb43563e520dff542e7a39a7eb31e

(105)

on November 20, 2011
at 01:21 AM

I'm also afraid of death.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 10:30 PM

My choice of words was intended to be metaphoric/poetic. Personification 101. In the same sense that many of the most scientifically rigorous observers here at PH regularly, casually, anecdotally refer to, for instance, what the hunter-gatherer genome tells us about what Nature "intended" back then, or now. It's obvious only inferences can be drawn about putative purpose and intentionality on the part of "Nature." Your assertion that Nature in fact "does not have" will, desire, or intent, is of the same logical type as the contrary assertion. That is, both are *metaphysical* statements.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:35 PM

In literal terms, I agree. My choice of words ("personification") was intended to be entirely metaphoric/poetic. My way of getting at observations I and many others have had, about how "Life" "seems" to "reward" and "support" the efforts of people who take an all-in approach to their lives. But, true, no guarantees. For I also know plenty of people who "do well" and "go all out" and never seem to catch a break. Still, I wake up with *faith* that "Life-at-Large and I" are working in concert toward exceptional possibilities. (My way of saying "discover its rules" and "follow best interest...")

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:01 PM

Though I agree with what you're saying, please let's not anthropomorphize life, or "mother nature", or whatever. Reality simply just is, as it is. Accept reality for what it is, discover its rules and do what's in your best interest accordingly. It doesn't have a will, nor a desire, nor intent. We do. Let's not make reality in our own image, for that way lies dishonesty.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 05:37 PM

Especially the green girls from the old Star Trek Series. :-D

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 05:36 PM

Especially te green girls from the old Star Trek series. :-D

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:59 PM

I do not fear death - it is natural and inevitable - it is very Paleo. I know when I draw my last breath I will be at peace and content that I did the best I possible could with the life I was given.

0842bcf75fca05aac68ce181aa075fa4

(128)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:58 PM

I'm 37. I know that as I get older, I might feat the unknown a bit more. I just hope that as I age, I continue to live in a manner that pursues 'better'...not just health, but knowledge, activity, ideas etc...etc. I have a lot of people in my family that live a long time, but the last 20 years or so aren't really living. So, to me, it has always been a curious thing being afraid of death, wanting to live as long as possible but not DOING anything in that time. Again, just from what I've seen in my own family. I like all the answers and comments I've gotten...interesting people!

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:35 PM

I'd love to know how old you are Wendy.

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I agree, I just plain love life, so long as I am healthy, I will keep going for as long as possible. I never get it when people say they wouldn't want to live for forever - I love experiencing every day, why would I want that to stop?

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:26 PM

Same goal. Without the car. Remind me: Kim Kardashian is from what planet?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:23 PM

Plus one dude.....you read my mind

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on November 19, 2011
at 03:39 PM

Oh God, where am I?? /r/paleo?

487eeac3aa3966d4e2d51bea6b53a32e

(0)

on November 19, 2011
at 03:01 PM

I had an opportunity to have sex with an extraterrestrial in a flying car once.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2011
at 02:08 PM

I had an opportunity to have sex with an extraterrestrial once.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2011
at 01:21 PM

I had an opportunity to buy a flying car once.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on November 19, 2011
at 11:01 AM

Don't we all? .

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on November 19, 2011
at 08:12 AM

I am not obsessed with longevity per se, but I am obsessed with maintaining good (read: best possible) health as I age, as I find the condition of my body is a strong influence on the degree to which I am happy/enjoy being alive. Generally, things which promote longevity-->health--->happiness. An exception would be something like significant calorie restriction.

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12 Answers

14
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:35 AM

i want a flying car and to have sex with an extraterrestrial.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2011
at 01:21 PM

I had an opportunity to buy a flying car once.

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on November 19, 2011
at 03:39 PM

Oh God, where am I?? /r/paleo?

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:26 PM

Same goal. Without the car. Remind me: Kim Kardashian is from what planet?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 05:36 PM

Especially te green girls from the old Star Trek series. :-D

487eeac3aa3966d4e2d51bea6b53a32e

(0)

on November 19, 2011
at 03:01 PM

I had an opportunity to have sex with an extraterrestrial in a flying car once.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on November 19, 2011
at 11:01 AM

Don't we all? .

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2011
at 02:08 PM

I had an opportunity to have sex with an extraterrestrial once.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 05:37 PM

Especially the green girls from the old Star Trek Series. :-D

4
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 06:05 PM

Some of us, who aren't currently infected by the religion virus, realize that life is a really amazing gift, and that there is no afterlife.

Dying's easy, it may be painful at the end, but once that light goes out, it's over and we don't get to see any more. You don't get to remember how painful that death was, or what you did while alive. You simply cease to be and all that you were is gone, leaving around a pile of unmoving, unthinking meat. It may matter to others around you whether you're alive or not, but once you're done, you're done.

Imagine what luck it is that the atoms that make us up weren't configured as some inanimate, unthinking object such as a rock, and instead, that we're not only sentient, but we're also human, and we're able to not only understand our own surroundings, but parts of the whole universe!

Many of us were promised a wonderful ecstatic afterlife, if only, we obeyed those in power, those with a political agenda to subject us to their whims. Be they priests, or land lords or kings, or other manipulative evil liars. So those of us who realize this, treasure life even more.

Others say "Oh well, I'll just go to heaven when I die, so it doesn't matter if I'm obese or get cancer, it doesn't matter that I'm in a dead end job, etc. It will be better the next time around," so they suffer needlessly accepting their fate, instead of fixing it.

I can understand situations where if your life is a hopeless living hell, whether due to bad health or living in some hellhole, that you might want to end it, but most of us don't live in such a place or situation and can almost always improve our situation.

So to us, life itself, as long as it remains enjoyable, is precious beyond anything else. And anything that threatens it needs to be addressed before it becomes a problem. Whether that threat is someone who wishes us harm or wishes to curtail our freedom, or steal from us, or if it's ill health, it needs to be addressed immediately with full force.

When you're still alive, there's always hope of improving your situation. Once you're dead, it's game over.

So, yes, we fight the good fight, and live on to enjoy life. Because once we die, its enjoyment ends. Permanently.

It really is that simple.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:33 PM

Yeah, sad that we who aren't religious have to respect the views of those who believe, but that those who believe don't respect ours.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on November 20, 2011
at 10:55 PM

Probably TL;DR or someone with deep religious views

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 20, 2011
at 01:27 PM

And this was downvoted because?

3
Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 19, 2011
at 12:57 PM

Most of us are scared shitless of dying. Delaying the inevitable through "longevity" interventions has an obvious appeal.

(By "longevity" I'm not talking about healthy habits that contribute to maximizing the chances of living a long, happy life, but rather the desire to exceed the average lifespan of 70-80 years and to live past 100 or some other such benchmark by taking extreme measures, drugs, etc.)

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on November 20, 2011
at 11:44 PM

I had the chance to die once, simply by doing nothing (it was a tubal pregnancy). And I'd been suicidally depressed for quite a while, too, so it would have been very easy to just bleed out and go. Turns out that even though my mind "thought" I wanted to die, my body fought like a bitch, and in its own way, made me go to the ER instead. I think it's good to be scared shitless of dying, for the most part, until you have no choice in the matter. Death doesn't really need us to give it a fair chance; it always wins in the end.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:59 PM

I do not fear death - it is natural and inevitable - it is very Paleo. I know when I draw my last breath I will be at peace and content that I did the best I possible could with the life I was given.

C44bb43563e520dff542e7a39a7eb31e

(105)

on November 20, 2011
at 01:21 AM

I'm also afraid of death.

3
7f7069fc4d8d2456cec509d0f9e9bb34

(865)

on November 19, 2011
at 11:39 AM

It gives you more time to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. That is the Daoist perspective at least.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:23 PM

Plus one dude.....you read my mind

2
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:26 PM

For those who are done with tasks we feel we must complete healthy time matters greatly

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:57 AM

and always kepp relaxed.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Enjoy the time you have and enjoy your sucess and the lovely time.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on November 21, 2011
at 01:01 AM

and last but not least, let your dreams be your healing...

2
Medium avatar

on November 19, 2011
at 04:24 PM

Agreed: To focus on "living longer" (absent any reference to issues of quality, enjoyment, meaning, purpose, value) seems distorted. But I don't know anyone for whom that's an authentic life goal. I say this being pretty well steeped in the science of aging/"anti-aging" and the various communities exploring same. I have not found that most references to life extension as a positive thing, place undue priority on living longer as opposed to living well. It's ultimately a question of emphasis.

I'm in my late 50s, feel fantastic, have goals that would never have occurred to me in my 20s, and it simply happens that the phrase "longevity" has become a useful template for exploration the same set of health values I've held since I was but a lad, in college, asking questions about diet, taking up running, trying yoga, learning meditation; all of which led me to start asking impertinent questions (from the standpoint of my Midwest upbringing) about "untapped human potential."

Interesting, I know many people in their 20s with an avowed interest in holistic health, prevention-oriented medicine, body-mind health; phrases of this sort. Few of them frame their interests in terms of "longevity" as a virtue. At another end of the continuum: people my age and older, with the same set of interests. Even if many older people feel as healthy and vital as they did in their 20s, the difference between the two groups is, largely: the older group knows they aren't 20 any more, will never be 20 again, but wish to continue feeling vitality, energy, curiosity, creativity, that 20 year olds take for granted.

Maybe a key difference is that, by the time you've passed mid-50s, you have figured out that the seeming "natural buffer" that allows younger people to waste time, energy, health; and make stupid choices on an ongoing basis ?????that buffer isn't limitless. You find out that, in fact, after 50 you'd better be making lifestyle choices that express the best of your genetics. Because you start seeing people your age falling into various states of disrepair, because their "vitality reservoirs" have dried up, largely. And the effects of their bad choices overtake the remaining buffer.

Look, simply stated, extending healthy longevity is truly an "unnatural" thing. Nature has no real interest in, or need for, you or me to stick around after passing on our genes, and ideally, actively raising offspring well. Beyond that, nature says, "You have ceased to be interesting to me, go shuffle off." However, there is a way to get nature to keep paying attention. Remain a lifelong learner; pursue best-practices toward diet exercise; manage stress; hang out with spirited people; make contributions, participate, join in; stay positive and future-oriented. Toward such persons, the Life Force says, "Well, look at you. I'm impressed. Would you be willing to be one of my ambassadors to the human world? Simple. Just keep on doing what moves, touches, and inspires you, OK?"

But even if that's the "positive" route you take in life after 50, still, there's no way any of us are getting out of this alive. We all know people who live righteously and still get sick; we know people who burn all candles at all ends, and keep going right along. In the proverbial final analysis, there are slower routes, or faster routes, to where we're all headed anyway. I have family members who chain smoke, consume alcohol in massive excess, eat with a stunning degree of ignorance and self-desructiveness, and sit on their asses whenever possible. And who acquire more pharmacological medicines with each birthday. A friend who lives this way - obese, alcohol, smoker, sedentary, depressed, RX medicine oriented - this week lost feeling in his left leg and went in for tests (massively expensive) to find out what's up. Nothing conclusive (no stroke, etc.). He did the bare-minimum tests, not including blood work that would have seemed to me crucial.

But, you see, my friend's goal was not to "be well" or even to "get well." His goal was that most familiar one: "I want the symptoms to stop so I can get back to ... normal." His symptoms-alleviation MD was only too glad to cooperate. Turns out most MDs don't offer this diagnosis: "Living dangerously beyond your genomic bounds." Oddly, if you attempt to kill yourself in very, very slow motion, it doesn't qualify for "suicide watch" or "danger to self." Go figure.

This is the logic that makes the most sense to me: One wishes to stay healthy or restore health. One attempts to do this, say, via diet, exercise, mindset, community, satisfying work. Hey, wait. Turns out these all correlate with greater longevity, whether that's our avowed goal or not. Genetics is a big factor, but even that's not set in stone. Smart lifestyle choices correlate with positive (pro-longevity) gene expression; vice versa.

Many start out focusing on "what to do": what to eat, how much to eat, exercise plans, supplements. That's a huge amount of what gets published here at PH. Yet at some point, the what to do to live long well equation seems to shift from doing to being.

"This is me. This is my life. I notice what's not working, I set about ceasing association with that. I notice what's fosters thriving. I go there instead as best I can."

Because I have come to believe that every day can, in fact, be a "summer day":

"The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?/ Who made the swan, and the black bear?/ Who made the grasshopper?/ This grasshopper, I mean-/ the one who has flung herself out of the grass,/ the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,/ who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-/ who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes./ Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face./ Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away./ I don't know exactly what a prayer is./ I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down/ into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,/ how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,/ which is what I have been doing all day./ Tell me, what else should I have done?/ Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?/ Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:35 PM

In literal terms, I agree. My choice of words ("personification") was intended to be entirely metaphoric/poetic. My way of getting at observations I and many others have had, about how "Life" "seems" to "reward" and "support" the efforts of people who take an all-in approach to their lives. But, true, no guarantees. For I also know plenty of people who "do well" and "go all out" and never seem to catch a break. Still, I wake up with *faith* that "Life-at-Large and I" are working in concert toward exceptional possibilities. (My way of saying "discover its rules" and "follow best interest...")

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 19, 2011
at 10:30 PM

My choice of words was intended to be metaphoric/poetic. Personification 101. In the same sense that many of the most scientifically rigorous observers here at PH regularly, casually, anecdotally refer to, for instance, what the hunter-gatherer genome tells us about what Nature "intended" back then, or now. It's obvious only inferences can be drawn about putative purpose and intentionality on the part of "Nature." Your assertion that Nature in fact "does not have" will, desire, or intent, is of the same logical type as the contrary assertion. That is, both are *metaphysical* statements.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:01 PM

Though I agree with what you're saying, please let's not anthropomorphize life, or "mother nature", or whatever. Reality simply just is, as it is. Accept reality for what it is, discover its rules and do what's in your best interest accordingly. It doesn't have a will, nor a desire, nor intent. We do. Let's not make reality in our own image, for that way lies dishonesty.

2
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on November 19, 2011
at 09:41 AM

A long life is only worth it if you are fit and healthy. I want to live forever ;-)

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on November 19, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I agree, I just plain love life, so long as I am healthy, I will keep going for as long as possible. I never get it when people say they wouldn't want to live for forever - I love experiencing every day, why would I want that to stop?

1
A03f0d03067a43c61786481d91e5d3a0

(1078)

on November 19, 2011
at 03:45 PM

Life expectancy has increased 4 months per year for the last century in western countries. That means people with genes to reach 100 ttoday, if only 24 years old like myself, can reach 137 (assuming the trend continues - it may not). My hope is that at some point between now and then there will be advances in medicine that will allow me to live forever. Or at least upload my mind into another carrier.

So I focus on longevity because I don't want to die. Ever. I value life too much to want to. And I don't think there's anything strange or wrong about that.

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2011
at 02:13 PM

I'm good with the natural run of things. Take it as you will. I'd take the longevity and health like good ole Jack LaLanne.

I'm not interested in extremes in either direction i.e. short term gain for long term loss like high level athletes or body builders may have....or short term loss for long term gain that caloric restriction tends to impose making the people look like they couldnt compete in a backyard game of kick ball.

1
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 19, 2011
at 01:28 PM

I don't particularly obsess over longetivity or fear death, but I certainly could find use for any time I have. I'm much more obsessed with maintaining my ability to be a full participant in my life for as long as I'm living. I'm not even going to start thinking about timing until I hit 106--and at the same time, I've already arranged with LifeLegacy to donate my corpus to science when I do kick off.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2011
at 01:19 PM

A lot of people here seem to want to live a long life just to prove that conventional wisdom is wrong. Beat the insurance actuaries I guess. Idealists.

Personally speaking if I hadn't gotten rid of a lot of fat and the diabetes I might not be around right now. At the least I'd have lost some independence, and would be a burden on others. So it's not so much living longer as it is living better. For that I'm thankful.

0
42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 19, 2011
at 03:38 PM

I think people get caught up thinking about lifespan the same way they think about money. Because no one wants to be broke or die young, they inevitably get caught up in the idea that more is better. It's the fear of being on the extreme low end of lifespan that makes us seek ways to maximize lifespan.

I also think that within the health and fitness community some people use it as a way of saying my diet/lifestyle is better than your diet/lifestyle. There are so many different viewpoints on what constitutes health, but lifespan is one statistic that everyone seems to agree on to some extent. So if you live long, it validates the choices that you made in regards to your health.

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