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Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

What We Can Discover in Other People’s Worlds

June 19, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you but I absolutely love to travel, especially to foreign countries and places I’ve never ventured into before. It excites my mind and does good things for me physically as well. Psychologists have told us for years that the human brain craves and thrives on novelty and also that a brain that gets excited can many times coax or persuade the body to maintain or even create better health. It sure seems to do that for me!

My wife and I just got back yesterday from Europe. Even though I have visited the Netherlands a few times before this last trip, this visit still stimulated my mind and body quite a bit. I am sure part of that was that I’d never taken the high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam and viewed that marvelous scenery. We also stayed in an old and quaint yet very different hotel right on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.

A few days later my wife and I again took the train but to a city I’d never visited before. Just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) we were privileged to watch from our nice fourth row seats a great tennis tournament played on grass as a warm up tournament for the renowned Wimbledon tournament. Interacting and getting to know a few of the wonderfully friendly Dutch people was tremendously fun as well as interesting and mind expanding. I even learned that the Dutch are, on average, the tallest people on the planet.

I’ve thought many times how different the world would probably be if virtually everyone could travel and visit dozens of different countries and cultures. I can’t help but believe that if this were to happen and we all took the time to really study and get to know and understand other people, we would grow to be so much more accepting and sympathetic. It would, no doubt, greatly diminish and maybe even halt the huge conflicts and wars of the world.

Just think about how you try to help one of your kids or friends that are having problems. Most of us try to understand the causes of those problems and the more we discover, the sympathetic we are and the more we can help out. Getting to know and understand other cultures makes it more likely that we will be able to accept, and when needed, help these others people that previously we may have thought were rather strange. Next time you travel to a new place you might want to keep that in mind and see what you might discover.