Living Long And Prospering: How To Do It

A few years ago I heard the news that one of my childhood heroes, Leonard Nimoy, better know as Star Trek’s Mr Spock, had died of old age. It’s quite a sobering thought, and certainly makes you wonder about living and your mortality. I’m 40. I’m not a kid anymore. I’m getting older, and if I just double the time I’ve spent on this here third rock from sun, I’m of acceptable dying age. I feel like I want to cry foul; this doesn’t seem long enough.

Turns out it may not have to be. I went to hear a speaker a few years ago, a Cambridge professor by the name of Aubrey du Grey.

He said a few interesting things with regard to aging and living.

The first was that the first person who will live to be 150 years old is more than likely alive today. The second was that the average child born after the year 2000 will live to see their 100th birthday. Holy crap! The average kid will live to be 100! Lastly, he said that his team may have found the genome that induces the degenerative state of aging. Therefore, if they can remove that gene, they can “ x” aging by, in essence, stopping it.

This sounds great, until you spend about two seconds actually thinking about it.

“Wait! What!?”

The idea of living forever terrifies me – even if I were still young in terms of my physical state. Sheesh, even living to 100 is a stretch. at means that if I retire at 60, after 40 years of work, I’d have to have enough cash to support myself for 40 more years. That’s insane. No, living to 80 may be just fine. I’m starting to realize that I don’t want to live longer; what I actually want is to live more. I don’t need more time at the end of life; what I need is more time at the end of my day.

And so do you.

We need to stop worrying about extending our lives, and start worrying about using the time we have a wee bit better.

Funnily enough, at the same event (TED) that I saw Du Grey, I heard another speaker called Jane McGonigal. She told the story of a book she had read by a hospice nurse. This nurse spoke to people on their deathbed, and asked them if they had any regrets. They did, and here they are in descending order:

5. I wish I’d let myself be happier.

4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

3. I wish I’d expressed myself better.

2. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not to what other people expected of me.

1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

None of these people needed more time; what they needed was more attention, and that is exactly what I’m going to give them. So with that in mind, have a great month – I’m certainly going to.

Who is the writer?

Richard Mulholland is an entrepreneur, speaker and father. He owns Missing Link, a presentation company, and co-owns 21Tanks, a perspective innovation lab. You can read more of his ramblings at his website or follow him on Twitter @RichMulholland.

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