This election season has been one of the roughest we as a nation have seen, and has done much to divide us, create controversy and potentially damage our health. I say “damage” because our very roots as a species have programmed us to need more. For more than ninety-nine percent of our time on earth, we organized as groups, and succeeded as a race because we were driven by the common good vs. individual wants. At one time, actions that chose personal gain over the best for the tribe often resulted in being exiled from that group. Our ancestors’ survival was based on strong social connection and collaboration, so it’s no wonder that concern for others and the common good has also been associated with a better aging experience.
In fact, the results of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (a long-term effort that has studied a more than 10,000 high school graduates until the present day) found that those who volunteered to help others had a lower mortality rate than those who did not volunteer or those who volunteered primarily for motives involving self. Because of studies like this one, the United Nations, as well as many European governments, are encouraging more citizens to volunteer, particularly for larger reasons, such as public health and safety.
The current political climate, however, has done much to create discord in our nation, inciting anger and stress over the potentially “wrong” candidate winning. Stress has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, cancer, dementia, and depression, whereas a mindful, compassionate view of others is associated with healthier outcomes.
What Can We Do?
No matter which candidate you support, let’s aim to be respectful of opinions which may differ from our own. Consider how our attitudes and choices affect us as a society, and ultimately, as a world.
The Buddha told us we are what we think about; that all that we are arises with our thoughts; and with our thoughts, we make the world. What kind of world do you want?
Live Long. Live Well!
Roger Landry is the award-winning author of Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging. In Live Long, Die Short, Dr. Roger shares a path that anyone can take, at any point in life, who wants to achieve authentic health and empower themselves to age in a better way.