Live Long and Prosper!

Time investing is more critical to meeting one’s goals than financial investing. Time cannot be “saved”, it’s more easily “wasted” than money (since only inaction is needed), and it’s darned difficult to “earn more” of it. While one can usually work (or, for those with investment income, wait) to get more money, it’s a harsh truth that one’s time on this world – and the quality of that time – is generally much more limited.

So it was interesting to open the print version of Newsweek back on June 22, 2009, and read “Can You Cheat Death?  No, but you can negotiate…”. These are things which increase/decrease one’s life expectancy, in years:

  • +10 Years – if you have a blood relative who has lived to 95 or older.
  • +5 Years – if you regularly play puzzles like Scrabble or Sudoku (keep your mind healthy & young!)
  • +5 Years – if you are a married man (stay married!) or +5.2 years if you are a woman (married or not, women tend to outlive men)
  • +5 Years – if you take 81 mg of aspirin a day
  • +3 years – if you eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies each day
  • +2 years – if you floss daily
  • +2 years – if you eat nuts regularly
  • +1.7 years – if you go to church regularly
  • -0.5 years – if you drink more than 5 cups of coffee each day
  • -1 years – if you get less than 6-8 hours of sleep each night
  • -1 years – if you have a family history of diabetes
  • -2.5 years – if you are outdoors a lot and do not wear sunscreen
  • -5 years – if you are slowly putting on weight
  • -5 years – if you frequently feel stressed out
  • -5 years – if you eat red meat more than twice a week
  • -5 years – if you have less than 12 years of education
  • -7 years – risky sexual behavior
  • -15 years – smoking
  • -15 years – using IV drugs

No doubt some of these will not “add” cumulatively – otherwise married churchgoing, fruit-vegetable-and-nut-eating Sudoko-players with long-lived relatives who floss and take aspirin daily would have life expectancies over 100 years!

Other items above may not be “primary causes” of increased life expectancy in and of themselves, but they get credit because correlate with other things that lead to longer lifespans (higher income, better social support networks…).

The list also highlights some behaviors that are destructive to lifespan; most of these are also financially-destructive behaviors as well!  I suspect that even the humble act of “burning the midnight oil” (and thus not getting at least 6-8 hours sleep) is both financially and time-destructive. Superficially, staying awake longer and sleeping less provides more time (and a chance to earn more money) up front, but the resulting sleep deprivation reduces quality of life (less valuable time), leads to poor decision-making (wasted time), and can impair one’s productivity at work (reduced future income).  And then there’s the year of lost life expectancy cited by Newsweek, to boot!

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