If you are like most people, you envision growing old and grey while still in good health. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen. People that tend to live longer and who feel they have lived happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives, for the most part, tend to take specific actions early on in life that make this possible.

Here are a few lessons on how to achieve a happy and healthy life for yourself.

Make Wise Food Choices

Your food choices have a profound effect on your health, and thus, your longevity. Research has shown that dietary habits have an influence on disease risk. Some eating habits trigger chronic health problems, while others cultivate long-term bodily health.

Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions about eating healthy that make it seem harder or unrealistic. A proper diet is not about restrictions, staying thin, or denying yourself the foods you enjoy. Instead, think of it as a way to feel and look great, have enough fuel, a great mood, and enjoy better health.

It should not overwhelm you either. Think about the major food groups and the healthier options for each and include them in your diet. If you can find purely organic foods, stick with these. If not, read your food labels carefully and identify a few go-to items that have the lowest levels of sugar and unhealthy fats.

Laugh Your Head Off

All that talk about laughter being the medicine is not just talk. Laughter triggers several other actions in your body that are great for your mind and body. A good laugh stretches your facial muscles and abdominal muscles, relaxing them for about 45 minutes.

Your blood pressure also rises and breathing increases, sending more oxygen to different areas of your body. These occurrences are milder versions of what you experience from a workout. Other studies have shown that laughing may raise infection-fighting antibodies and boost your immune system.

This helps your body fight infections and disease much better. With these benefits in mind, strive to find and enjoy your jerking, tear-inducing laughs anywhere you can find them.

Cultivate Healthy Relationships

Harvard conducted a study from 1938 to make predictions on healthy aging. This 80-year-old study had one powerful conclusion; good relationships keep us healthier and happier.

Good relationships with spouse, family, and friends provide a social connection and support that can lead to more fulfillment and good health, and by extension, a longer and happier life

Unfortunately, people tend to get and feel more isolated as they age, which breeds feelings of unhappiness. The statistics on loneliness are worrying, with 46% of Americans admitting to feeling lonely most of the time. In Australia, 1 in 4 people feels lonely every week.

While its effects creep in subtly, loneliness causes one’s health to decline much earlier. Your brain function declines sooner, as well. As you consciously work on other aspects of your life, keep in mind that having deep-rooted social connections are important and will become even more so as you age.

People do not actively choose to be lonely. However, your actions or inactions can determine whether you will end up lonely or not.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is also among the things that take a back seat as life gets busier. You might not notice or feel it immediately, but cutting back on sleep has some serious consequences to your health.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, an adult requires at least seven hours of sleep every night. Anything less than this, you start placing your health in jeopardy. The numbers on this are sobering as well.

Inadequate sleep can shorten your lifespan by as much as 15%. Some of the more notable results of inadequate sleep include weight gain, increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and so on.

It also affects your cognitive abilities, general mood, sex drive, and overall productivity. Think of sleep as your body’s way to switch you off and allow your body to rejuvenate itself. Without this, you risk physical and mental health issues that will interfere with your dream of happiness and longevity.

Make Good Career Choices

As the marketplace becomes more demanding, people are spending more and more time at their jobs. Making good career choices from the beginning can significantly affect your happiness, fulfillment levels, and overall quality of life.

If you do not get it right the first time around, be brave enough to explore your options and make the necessary changes mid-career. At times, your unhappiness does not necessarily stem from your profession, but from a certain aspect of it.

Identifying what these are and adjusting accordingly can significantly change your outlook on life. For example, would you find more fulfillment in nurturing young minds, leading a more sustainable lifestyle, or even fewer working hours?

Think through these issues and find a balance between making a comfortable income while living the healthy and happy life you feel you were created to live.

Get Moving

Exercise is just about the best thing you can do for your mind, body, and soul. Regular exercise helps you sleep better, stay mentally agile, and keeps your health in check. A less known benefit of exercise is that it makes you happy by releasing endorphins.

Endorphins mimic how opioids work by relieving stress and pain. Physical activity is also known to provide greater resistance to disease and illness. As you grow older, your chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes increases.

While aging plays a part in increasing your risk levels for these conditions, working out can decrease the likelihood of developing a chronic illness. Better health means a better quality of life, peace of mind, and less strain on your finances.

Get an Early Start to Live a Healthy and Happy Life When You Get Older

While it’s never too late to get yourself on the path to fulfillment, starting early allows you to get a rhythm early on, and puts you on a path that will enable you to enjoy bliss in your old age.

It also allows you to start thinking about your health, happiness, and fulfillment and identify various ways to get there.

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