The 5 Keys to Health and Longevity

Contrary to popular belief, your health is in your hands. And when you become conscious of this fact and perform actions that encourage wellness, you can live the long, joyful, and extraordinary life you deserve.
06/01/2013 10:30am ET | Updated August 1, 2013
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Close-up of the face of a female African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

We hear it all the time: "Health is everything." And while there are many actions we can take to promote great health, we tend to overlook some of the simplest and most obvious. Wholesome foods and regular exercise are, of course, crucial factors, but I stress the importance of several longstanding, often-forgotten solutions that have improved the quality and duration of human life since the dawn of humankind. Implement my five keys to health and longevity into your day-to-day life and reap the benefits of a more sound state of being:

Live with a purpose: The first (and possibly most important) key is rooted within your unique life purpose. Few of us actually live with a purpose. And those of us who do have trained our minds and bodies to want to live longer because we require time to fulfill our mission. Louise Hay founded Hay House, the publishing house that published my sixth book, Wholeliness, at 58 years old. And now, 28 years later, both she and her company are thriving! I offer you this example as a reminder that you can embark on your soul's journey at any age. But you must first determine what you were put on this earth to do. Remind yourself each day that you aren't anywhere near finished with your special mission.

Know your genetic code: Both your history and future lie within your genes. Understanding your genetics can be critical in preventing disease, as anticipating certain illnesses that run in your family can literally save your life. Know your family history, and be aware of the genetic factors that have repeated in your lineage. For example, if cancer is prevalent in your family, get routine or extra screenings to check for any early, unwanted changes. Angelina Jolie made the brave choice to undergo a double mastectomy so as not to repeat a disease that caused her mother's death. Once you comprehend the genetic issues to which your family is predisposed, you can act to stop these illnesses from manifesting in your own life.

Perform sacred rituals: For those of us who can spare a minute out of the day, my advice is to spend it in a sacred way. We're such busy creatures that we rarely take a timeout. We put so much effort into taking care of everyone around us that we forget to take care of ourselves. But self-love is the key to all success. No matter how hectic your schedule, take 30 minutes out your day, each day, to enjoy "me" time. Breathe deeply, meditate, relax in a quiet place, walk in the outdoors, or practice your favorite hobby. Expand your talents and explore new areas of your complex self. Consider this personal time a cleansing of the soul, a purging of negativity, and a detox of your mind. A healthy, reliable relationship with yourself may help prolong your life.

Bask in the company of others: The fourth key encourages you to be a social butterfly. Being around other people can enhance your mood and increase your lifespan. This is because being in good company rewires your neurons and can downright change your brain chemistry. "Feel-good" neurons interact and multiply, and you begin to reflect a more positive attitude with time. Things that used to bother you may affect you less and less. Laughter is essential, but it must be shared with those you love. Get together with people who make you feel good -- we can learn so much from each other through simple, honest, reflective conversation. Plato believed that ultimate truth can be reached through dialogue, and you'll be surprised at the truths you can discover and the wise conclusions you can draw just by listening to the unbelievable experiences of others.

Everything in moderation: Nothing holds more truth than this ancient phrase which reminds us to calm exaggerative tendencies. When we resolve to cultivate good health, we commit to total awareness of our actions and promise to engage in activities that advance our well-being. This is not to say we can't succumb to periodic weaknesses, from sweets to alcohol to meat to coffee. The key is not to consume a few foods in excess, but to integrate a large variety of foods in moderation. Keep yourself on the moderate track by allowing yourself two cheat days a week. Promise to be good from Monday through Friday, for example, then indulge in your favorite palatable pleasures sans guilt on the weekend.

Contrary to popular belief, your health is in your hands. And when you become conscious of this fact and perform actions that encourage wellness, you can live the long, joyful, and extraordinary life you deserve.

To Life,
Dr. Carmen Harra

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