Daily Habits That Increase or Decrease How Long You Live

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For those who follow me on social media, read my books, watch, read or listen to my media interviews, you know there are habits that can make you rich and habits that can make you poor.

But did you also know that your daily habits can have a profound effect on how long you live?

In a 2015 Copenhagen study on 64,637 individuals (Rode, Nordestgaar & Bojesen May 2015 Study), the shorter your telomeres , the higher your risk of dying from diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and all other diseases.

Your body is full of cells that need to constantly renew themselves (give birth to new cells via mitosis). New cells are created in order to replace old, malfunctioning cells, thus ensuring the body functions normally.

Inside every cell in your body is a nucleus. Inside every nucleus is DNA. Your unique DNA is composed of 46 chromosomes – 23 from your mother and 23 from your father. Residing on each one of those 46 chromosomes are genes. Each gene = an instruction, or computer code, that tells individual or groups of cells to perform specific tasks. Ideally, these tasks are intended to keep us alive and healthy.

At the end of each chromosome, is an enzyme called telomere. Telomeres are like the aglets at the end of every shoelace that keep each chromosome from fraying. When the telomeres at the end of a chromosome become too short, the cell that houses the chromosome, stops dividing or reproducing via mitosis. They call these cells senescent cells, or old cells. The more old cells you have, the more you age and the more susceptible you become to disease.

When a cell is damaged or can’t reproduce (dying), the cell sends out an SOS signal. In response, the body releases chemicals, called cytokines, to repair the damaged or dying cell. If the cell, however, houses chromosomes with telomeres that are too short, these chemicals are prevented from entering the cell to fix it.

This is commonly known as chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is the cause of all sorts of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, brain disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, immunological disorders, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, hepatitis and many others.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel, in their book The Telomere Effect, lifestyle habits can increase or decrease the length of your telomeres and thus increase or decrease your life expectancy.

Lifestyle Habits That Decrease Life Expectancy:

  • Habitual Negative Emotions: Anger, Envy, Sadness, Depression, Unhappiness and Hate
  • Being Argumentative
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Deceit
  • Cheating
  • Negative Thoughts
  • Negative Mental Outlook
  • Pessimistic Mindset
  • Lying
  • Inactivity or Lack of Exercise
  • Unhealthy Eating Habits
  • Procrastination
  • Excessive and/or Frequent Alcohol Consumption
  • Frequent Drug Use
  • Living Beyond Your Means/Struggling Financially
  • Negative Self-Talk
  • Low Willpower/Giving Into Temptations/Seeking Immediate Gratification
  • Lack of Direction/Purpose in Life
  • No Goals
  • Marital Problems
  • Infidelity
  • Disloyalty
  • Over-Eating/Obesity
  • Smoking Cigarettes
  • Doing Work You Hate
  • Boredom
  • Gossip
  • Overactive Ego
  • Excessive Sugar Consumption
  • Eating Processed Foods
  • Eating Too Many Carbohydrates
  • Eating Too Much Junk Food
  • Poor Work Ethic
  • Victim Thinking
  • Forging/Maintaining Toxic Relationships

Lifestyle Habits That Increase Life Expectancy:

  • Habitual Positive Emotions: Love, Gratitude, Upbeat, Happy and Enthusiastic
  • Loving Relationships
  • Loyalty
  • Honesty/Truthfulness
  • Helping Others
  • Charity
  • Positive Mental Outlook
  • Optimistic Mindset
  • Living Below Your Means/Financially Secure
  • Healthy Eating Habits
  • Regular Aerobic Exercise
  • Regular Weight Lifting
  • Regular Physical Activity
  • Pursuit of Knowledge
  • Pursuing Novel Activities
  • Delayed Gratification/ Strong Willpower
  • Positive Self-Talk
  • Goal-Driven
  • Having a Purpose in Life
  • Pursuing Dreams
  • Forging and Maintaining Strong Positive Relationships
  • Fasting/Intermittent Fasting
  • Doing Work You Love
  • Saving Money
  • Conscientiousness
  • Hard Work Ethic
  • Kindness/Compassion

Your habits can also turn on or off certain genes. This is known as Epigenetics. Through Epigenetics, chemicals can be added to genes that turn specific genes on (methylation) or turn specific genes off (demethylation).

The release or triggering of these chemicals can occur in various ways and one of those ways is your habits.

Example: If you have the habit of constantly worrying about every little thing, this creates chronic stress. Chronic stress turns on the gene CYP17, whose job is to convert cholesterol to cortisol. Too much worrying leads to too much cortisol which depresses your immune system, leaving you susceptible to diseases, viruses and colds.

Your habits, therefore, can cause the release of certain chemicals that alter your genes. This is not only your problem, however, for two reasons:

  1. You can pass your altered genes on to your yet-to-be-conceived children and/or
  2. Your habits often become your child’s habits, thus causing your child to alter their own genes.

So, be very careful which habits you forge. Bad habits can shorten your life span and cause harmful genetic mutations that negatively affect you, your children and their progeny.

Habits matter.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. I would like to point out it is practically impossible to be in a state of learning and depressed at the same time.These two mindsets are opposed to each other. One mindset looks ahead (learning), while the other mindset (depression) often looks back to the past.

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